In meeting with Raisi, Xi vows ‘unswerving’ support

Iran's President Ebrahim Raisi is on a three-day visit to China

February 14, 2023 06:38 pm | Updated February 15, 2023 12:14 am IST - BEIJING

Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi shakes hands with Chinese President Xi Jinping during a welcoming ceremony in Beijing, China, February 14, 2023.

Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi shakes hands with Chinese President Xi Jinping during a welcoming ceremony in Beijing, China, February 14, 2023. | Photo Credit: Reuters

Chinese President Xi Jinping on Tuesday pledged “unswerving” support to visiting Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi in talks in Beijing, with both countries vowing to step up trade ties despite the threat of American sanctions.

“China has always viewed and developed its relations with Iran from a strategic perspective,” State media quoted Mr. Xi as saying in Tuesday’s talks. “No matter how the international and regional situation changes, China will unswervingly develop friendly cooperation with Iran, push for new development of the China-Iran comprehensive strategic partnership, and play a positive role in world peace and human progress.”

Mr. Xi also added that China would support talks for an early resolution of the Iranian nuclear issue and implementation of the 2015 nuclear deal, which Beijing has backed while criticising Washington for its withdrawal from the agreement.

In an editorial on Tuesday, the Communist Party-run Global Times noted Iran was “still under severe sanctions by the U.S. and China is the main target of U.S. strategic suppression”. “Many of the achievements of China-Iran cooperation in recent years have been realised by overcoming interference and sabotage by the U.S. side,” the editorial said.

“In this sense, China’s deepening cooperation with Iran also has [an] anti-hegemony and anti-bullying feature. Both China and Iran uphold independent foreign policies, firmly defend the principle of non-interference in internal affairs on international occasions, and safeguard the common interests of developing countries. This is conducive to promoting the multi-polarisation and diversified development of the world, and conforms to the general trend of the times. If anyone feels ‘targeted’ in this process, then they should first reflect on whether they are too selfish. The existing U.S.-led international system has designs to bully and exploit developing countries and emerging countries.”

Iranian State media said Mr. Raisi was travelling with a large trade delegation, as well as with a number of ministers including those handling the economy, roads and transportation, oil, industry, mining and trade.

One key issue on the agenda was taking forward and operationalising the 25-year cooperation agreement signed in 2021 but yet to be implemented, under which Beijing is reportedly considering long-term investments of up to $400 billion in various sectors of Iran’s economy, from infrastructure to oil and gas, in return for supplies of Iranian oil.

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