China and Iran Expected to Sign 25-Year Agreement, Iranian State Media Says

DUBAI (Reuters) – Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi arrived in Iran on Friday for a visit that Iranian state media said would see the signing of a 25-year cooperation agreement between the two countries, which are subject to United States sanctions.

FILE PHOTO: Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi listens to Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif during a meeting at the Diaoyutai State Guest House in Beijing, China on December 31, 2019 Noel Celis / Pool via Reuters

The deal, the final details of which have yet to be announced, is expected to include Chinese investments in Iran’s energy and infrastructure sectors.

In 2016, China, Iran’s biggest trading partner and long-time ally, agreed to boost bilateral trade by more than 10 times, to reach $ 600 billion in the next decade.

“The signing of the comprehensive cooperation program of the Islamic Republic of Iran and the People’s Republic of China by the foreign ministers of the two countries is another program of this two-day trip,” the state news agency IRNA said.

Iran is hardening its stance toward the United States and the European parties to the 2015 Tehran nuclear deal with world powers.

“This document is a complete roadmap with strategic political and economic clauses covering trade, economic and transport cooperation … with a special focus on the private sectors of the two parties,” the spokesman for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Saeed Khatibzadeh.

On Thursday, China’s Ministry of Commerce said Beijing will make efforts to safeguard the Iran nuclear deal and defend the legitimate interests of Sino-Iranian relations.

China made the comments after Reuters reported that Iran has “indirectly” moved record volumes of oil to China in recent months, marked as supplies from other countries, even as China’s customs data showed that no Iranian oil was imported in. the first two months of this year.

US President Joe Biden has tried to reactivate talks with Iran on the nuclear deal abandoned by former President Donald Trump in 2018, although tough economic measures remain in place that Tehran insists be lifted before negotiations are resumed. talks.

The United States and the other Western powers that joined the 2015 accord appear to disagree with Tehran on which side should return to the accord first, making it unlikely that the US sanctions that have crippled Iran’s economy can be quickly removed. .

However, oil exports by OPEC members rose in January after a boost in the fourth quarter, despite US sanctions, a sign that the end of Trump’s term may be changing the behavior of the buyers. Since the end of 2018 there has been a sharp drop in Iranian exports to China and other Asian customers.

Dubai newsroom report, edited by William Maclean and Grant McCool


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