Iran Stresses Closer Alignment With China

China says domestic developments in countries should not damage the Iran nuclear deal, as the pact is a multilateral agreement endorsed by the UN Security Council
Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif (L) and his Chinese counterpart, Wang Yi, attend a joint press conference in Beijing on Dec. 5. Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif (L) and his Chinese counterpart, Wang Yi, attend a joint press conference in Beijing on Dec. 5.

Iran is ready for closer alignment with China, as the two sides have many common interests and a shared view on international developments.

Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif made the statement in a meeting with his Chinese counterpart, Wang Yi, in Beijing on Monday, IRNA reported.

Pointing to the long history of bilateral relations and the positive experience of economic cooperation, the top Iranian diplomat said there are no major obstacles to closer interaction between the two Asian nations.

"The Islamic Republic of Iran sees no limit to fostering collaboration with China," he said.

Pointing to the January visit by Chinese President Xi Jinping to Iran, Zarif said he believes the full implementation of agreements made in the trip, including 17 memorandums of understanding, can help open a new chapter in bilateral relations.

During Xi's state visit, the two countries agreed to increase bilateral trade by more than tenfold to $600 billion in the next decade.

Wang called for strengthening bonds of friendship between the two nations, adding that Beijing welcomes and supports Iran's bid to join Shanghai Cooperation Organization.

Iran gained observer status in the security and economic organization in 2005 and submitted its request to join in 2006, but international sanctions on Iran were a major obstacle to the acceptance of Iran.

*** Need to Uphold JCPOA

The Chinese minister pointed to the July 2015 nuclear deal between Iran and major powers, saying it is up to all sides to "fully" honor their commitments under the deal.

"The Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action is a multilateral agreement approved by the UN Security Council, and domestic developments in countries should not damage it," he said.

Wang was alluding to the recent victory in US presidential election of Donald Trump, who during electoral campaigns called the deal "the worst ever negotiated" and once said dismantling it would be his "number-one priority" if elected to office.

Although other contradictory statements by Trump and his advisors have made it difficult to predict what he will actually do to the pact, a cloud of uncertainty has surrounded the agreement that was concluded after two years of negotiations between Iran and P5+1 (the US, Britain, France, China and Russia, plus Germany).

The deal, which was later endorsed by UNSC Resolution 2231, resolved a 12-year dispute by removing the UN, the US and EU sanctions on Iran in return for temporary curbs on its nuclear program.

A recent controversial decision by the US Congress to pass a bill extending the Iran Sanctions Act for another decade has triggered concerns about the accord, as Iranian leaders have described its possible approval by US President Barack Obama, which will turn it into a law, as a breach of the deal and vowed to respond accordingly.

After meeting with Wang and a subsequent joint press conference, Zarif sat down for talks on bilateral relations with the Chinese vice premier, Zhang Gaoli.

According to the Chinese media, Wang and Zarif were to co-chair the first annual foreign ministers' meeting, a mechanism to help deepen mutual trust agreed upon during Xi's January visit to Iran.

China was the second leg of a three-nation Asian tour that began in India on Saturday, with Zarif heading a 38-strong politico-economic delegation. 

In the South Asian country, Zarif delivered a speech at the Sixth Ministerial Conference of the Heart of Asia and attended an economic forum of Iranian and Indian businesspeople.

Japan is the third destination of Zarif's tour, where he is expected to meet his counterpart, Fumio Kishida, and take part in business forums.

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