Tehran's Regional Role Indispensable

Tehran's Regional Role IndispensableTehran's Regional Role Indispensable

Tehran plays an indispensable role in international efforts to defuse regional conflicts, a political official with the Chinese Embassy in Tehran said.

Highlighting the importance of accommodating the Islamic Republic in efforts to settle regional issues, the unnamed official told ISNA on Sunday, "Under the current circumstances, regional crises cannot be tackled without Iran's help."

He noted that relations with Tehran have always been a top priority in Beijing's foreign policy, adding that the Islamic Republic is more than just an oil-rich trading partner to China.

"Expanding relations with Iran without doubt is a top priority in our Middle East policy and there is consensus among all the Chinese, from high-level officials to ordinary people."

"Iran not only sits on vast oil reserves, but it enjoys a strategic geopolitical position. It is located at the crossroads of West Asia and North Africa."

The diplomat underlined close cooperation between Iranian and Chinese officials during the long-running nuclear negotiations, saying his country has always backed Iran's assertion of its right to the peaceful use of nuclear energy.

China accompanied five other major powers, namely the US, the UK, France, Germany and Russia, in negotiations leading to the July 14 nuclear deal.

It went into force last month to provide sanctions relief in return for temporary curbs on Tehran's nuclear program.

Among the curbs to which Iran was subjected by the accord was redesigning the Arak heavy water reactor, converting it to a conventional facility.

Tehran has consistently denied its nuclear program was meant to develop nuclear bomb capabilities, saying it was for civilian purposes only.

Iran, the United States and China released a joint "statement of intent" on Oct. 18 to announce their cooperation on the Arak modernization project and, shortly afterward, signed a document in this connection.

"A working group has been set up, under the chairmanship of China and the US … The group represents all the parties to the nuclear deal with Iran. China coordinated communications between Iran and the six nations to sign an agreement" of cooperation on the Arak project, the official added.