Iran welcomes cooperation with key trading partner China
Tehran (AFP) – Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi on Wednesday hailed cooperation with the country’s biggest trading partner, China, saying Tehran wants to “expand its long-term strategic relationship” during a meeting with Beijing’s defense minister.
Raisi stressed that “regional and global developments show more than ever the value of Iran-China strategic cooperation.”
Iran has been engaged for a year in negotiations with France, Germany, Britain, Russia and China directly, and the United States indirectly, to revive a troubled 2015 nuclear deal.
The deal gave Iran sanctions relief in exchange for curbs on its nuclear program to ensure Tehran could not develop a nuclear weapon, something it has always denied wanting to do.
But talks in Vienna to restore the deal have been suspended since March 11.
Among the key remaining sticking points is Iran’s demand that Washington remove its Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps from the US terrorist list.
“Combating unilateralism and creating stability and order is only possible through the cooperation of like-minded independent powers,” Raisi said during the meeting with Chinese Defense Minister Wei Fenghe.
Wei also met with his Iranian counterpart, Mohammad-Reza Ashtiani, who stressed “the need to counter US hegemony in the world by strengthening multilateralism”, according to a statement from the Iranian Defense Ministry.
Raisi said Iran’s “priority” was the “successful implementation of the 25-year comprehensive cooperation plan” it signed with China in March 2021.
The agreement includes “political, strategic and economic clauses”, according to Tehran.
Trade with China plummeted after Washington reimposed biting economic sanctions on Iran in 2018 when then-President Donald Trump unilaterally withdrew from the nuclear deal.
But exports to China have jumped 58% in the past 12 months, while imports from China have risen 29%, according to Iranian media.
© 2022 AFP