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Pakistan in talks to hand Gwadar port to China

01 September, 2012

LAHORE: Pakistan is planning to transfer operational control of its strategically important Gwadar Port from Singapore's PSA International to a Chinese company, Financial Times on Friday quoted a minister as saying.

"We have reached an agreement with PSA where they have decided to leave the port at Gwadar. They are in discussions with a possible Chinese investor," Ports And Shipping Minister Babar Khan Ghauri told FT in an interview.

Gwadar, built with the help of a loan from China, is close to the Pakistan-Iran border and the Strait of Hormuz, through which much of the Gulf's oil exports are carried by ship to international markets.

PSA declined to comment but Ghauri and Singaporean sources confirmed that PSA's imminent handover of control was triggered in part by Pakistan's failure to fulfil its commitments, one being the building of a motorway link to service the port. Other differences included the government's failure to transfer land for the port's expansion.

"There is a decision for PSA to leave and we have given our consent," said Ghauri, who declined to name the potential Chinese replacement. However, Pakistani officials said strategic as well as commercial interests played a part in the change. China's assumption of the port contract "will be a landmark development, both for Pakistan and China", said a senior government official.

"This has great value for China", he said. "We believe the Chinese may use their presence at Gwadar to lay down a pipeline in future for transporting Middle Eastern oil to western China."


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