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Xi lauds China-Iran close ties, says Beijing will ‘unswervingly’ develop friendly cooperation with Tehran

Iranian President Ebrahim Raeisi (L) receives an official welcome from his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping, in Beijing, on February 14, 2023. (Photo by Fars news agency)

Chinese President Xi Jinping has lauded the close relationship between Iran and China, stressing that Beijing will “unswervingly” develop friendly cooperation with Tehran irrespective of international and regional changes.

Xi was cited by state broadcaster CCTV as making the remarks on Tuesday as he hosted Iranian President Ebrahim Raeisi at the start of a three-day visit to the country, the first state visit by an Iranian president to China in more than 20 years.

"In the face of the current complex changes in the world, times, and history, China and Iran have supported each other and worked together in solidarity and cooperation," the Chinese president said.

Underlining that China "supports Iran in safeguarding national sovereignty, independence, territorial integrity and national dignity... and in resisting unilateralism and hegemonism," Xi said, "No matter how the international and regional situation changes, China will unswervingly develop friendly cooperation with Iran.”

Xi and Raeisi attended the signing of 20 cooperation agreements, adding to a 25-year partnership agreement to cooperate in developing oil, industry and other fields.

The state broadcaster reported that they signed "a number of bilateral cooperation documents in the fields of agriculture, trade, tourism, environmental protection, health, disaster relief, culture, and sports.”

The Iranian president arrived in Beijing earlier in the day at the head of a high-ranking politico-economic delegation on an official invitation by his Chinese counterpart.

Speaking to reporters before leaving Tehran for Beijing, Raeisi said Iran and China have similar views on fighting unilateralism at the international level.

During the trip, the two countries seek to operationalize the comprehensive strategic partnership agreement, which was signed in March 2021, in a bid to strengthen their long-standing economic and political alliance.

Xi: China backs Iran’s rights over nuclear issue

Meanwhile, the Chinese leader said Beijing "opposes external forces interfering in Iran's internal affairs and undermining Iran's security and stability," and will continue to "promote the early and proper resolution of the Iranian nuclear issue.”

In a post on his Twitter account on Friday, Raeisi reiterated Tehran's readiness to reach a "fair" final agreement on reviving the US-abandoned 2015 nuclear deal, saying, however, that the delusional US and its European allies made a miscalculation by deciding to interfere in Iran's domestic affairs.

Instead of making use of the "opportunity of the negotiations", the US and E3 interfered in Iran's internal affairs, the Iranian chief executive added.

The stalemate on the nuclear deal, formally known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), was triggered in May 2018, when former US president Donald Trump pulled Washington out of the accord reached between Iran and world powers and imposed harsh economic sanctions against the country under the so-called “maximum pressure” policy.

The negotiations to salvage the JCPOA have stalled since August 2022 due to Washington’s insistence on its hard-nosed position of not removing the sanctions that were imposed on the Islamic Republic by the Trump administration.

Iran, whose strict adherence to the deal had been verified several times by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), demands guarantees from the US that it will not withdraw from or violate the agreement again. The US has refused, complicating the prospects of the talks.

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