The Russian TASS news agency on Friday reported that Iran’s Ambassador to Russia Mehdi Sanaei has noted in an address to students in Saint-Petersburg University of the Humanities and Social Sciences that Moscow and Tehran are holding talks on digging a ship canal from the Caspian Sea to the Persian Gulf.
“During Dr. Sanaei’s address in St. Petersburg’s state university, a student asked about Iran’s construction of a ship canal from Caspian (Sea) to Persian Gulf, and our ambassador replied that such a case is under investigation,” the media diplomacy department of Iran’s embassy said on Friday.
“There has been no question or mention of cooperation between Iran and Russia in this regard,” the Iranian embassy added, dismissing the media report.
The embassy said that Russia’s TASS has accordingly corrected the way it published the news.
The Caspian Sea is the largest enclosed inland body of water in the world. Its coastline is 7,000 kilometers long and is bordered by Russia, Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan, Iran and Azerbaijan.
Any canal linking Caspian Sea to Persian Gulf (and the Indian Ocean) has to go through Iran.
Earlier on Thursday, Russia, Azerbaijan and Iran agreed to speed up the talks on a North-South transport corridor, said Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov. Part of it will go along the western coast of the Caspian Sea from Russia to Iran through Azerbaijan.
The North-South corridor, when built, is expected to significantly reduce the time of cargo transport from India to Central Asia and Russia. At present, it takes about 40 days to ship goods from Mumbai in India to Moscow. The new route will be able to cut this time to 14 days.
The corridor will also bypass the overloaded and expensive Suez Canal.