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China says ready to work with Iran against unilateralism, bullying behavior

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi (R) meets Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif at Diaoyutai State Guesthouse in Beijing, China, May 17, 2019. (File photo by Reuters)

China’s State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi says Beijing is ready to cooperate with Iran in a joint fight against unilateralism and bullying behavior at global level.

In a Saturday phone conversation with Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, the top Chinese diplomat said Beijing and Tehran would work together to better safeguard the interests of the two nations as well as other developing countries.

He added that the administration of Iranian President Hassan Rouhani has made positive contributions over the past eight years to the development of bilateral relations, saying Beijing would continue to further strengthen communication with the next Iranian administration of President-elect Ebrahim Raeisi.

Wang expressed his appreciation to Iran for supporting China on issues concerning the country's core interests and said Beijing would, as always, support Tehran in safeguarding its national sovereignty.

As a signatory to the landmark 2015 nuclear agreement, officially known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), China has always supported Iran’s stance vis-à-vis the deal, particularly after the United States unilaterally withdrew from it in 2018.

The remaining signatories to the JCPOA – France, Britain, Germany, Russia and China – started talks in the Austrian capital of Vienna in early April with the aim of reviving the deal by bringing all original parties, especially the US, back into compliance with the agreement.

So far, six rounds of negotiations have been held in the Austrian capital, as a result of which, according to participants, “significant progress” has been made in the course of the “constructive” and “businesslike” talks.

However, disagreements have persisted over a number of issues, including how to sequence the US sanctions removal, with Tehran arguing that since Washington was the party that violated the terms of the agreement, it should take the first step back into compliance with the deal by removing the unilateral sanctions.

Iran hopes to continue cooperation with China in COVID-19 fight: Zarif

The Iranian foreign minister, for his part, thanked China for providing Tehran with vaccine and materials to battle the COVID-19 pandemic.

Zarif said Iran attaches great importance to enhanced relations with China and believes that mutual ties would be further deepened after the new Iranian administration takes office within the next few weeks.

During a visit to Tehran in March, the Chinese foreign minister and his Iranian counterpart signed a 25-year comprehensive strategic partnership agreement, marking a milestone in bilateral relations between the two countries.

The cooperation roadmap had been announced in a joint statement during a visit to Tehran by Chinese President Xi Jinping in 2016.

It consists of 20 articles, covering Tehran-Beijing ties in “Political,” “Executive Cooperation,” “Human and Cultural,” “Judiciary, Security and Defense,” and “Regional and International” domains.

Zarif said the strategic partnership agreement signed with China would lead to further strengthening of relations between the two countries.

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