Xi meets Rouhani to improve ties after sanctions lifted

Chinese President Xi Jinping meets Iranian President Hassan Rouhani in Tehran to develop economic and political ties following lifting of nuclear sanctions

Photo by: AFP
Photo by: AFP

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani shakes hands with Chinese President Xi Jinping (R) during a welcoming ceremony on January 23, 2016 in the capital Tehran

Updated Jan 24, 2016

Chinese President Xi Jinping met his Iranian counterpart Hassan Rouhani on Saturday in Tehran, and the two leaders agreed to improve their bilateral ties by signing a "comprehensive strategic partnership" deal after international sanctions on Iran were lifted.

"We are happy that President Xi visited Iran after the lifting of sanctions ... Iran and China have agreed to increase trade to $600 billion in the next 10 years," Rouhani said at the news conference with Xi broadcast live on the state television.

"Iran and China have agreed on forming strategic relations (as) reflected in a 25-year comprehensive document."

Xi said he is seeking to improve “strategic ties with Iran” especially in the energy sector.

The Chinese president is the first leader to visit the country after sanctions on Iran were lifted last week after International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) confirmed that Tehran met the conditions of the nuclear deal it made with P5+1 countries - United States, United Kingdom, France, Russia, China and Germany - last year.

"China is seeking to improve bilateral ties with Iran to start a new season of comprehensive, long-term and sustainable relations with the Islamic Republic," President Xi was quoted as saying by Iran's state news agency, IRNA, on his arrival in Tehran on Friday night.

Xi will also meet Iran's most powerful figure, Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, later in the day.

Over the last six years, China has been Iran’s biggest trading partner as the total volume of exchanges between Iran and China stood at around $52 billion in 2014.

Both countries signed 17 accords on Saturday, including agreements on a revival of the ancient Silk Road trade route and cooperation in peaceful nuclear energy.

Xi is the first Chinese president to visit Iran in 14 years, last visit to Iran was by then President Jiang Zemin in 2002.

Iran is the last stop of Xi’s Middle East tour after Saudi Arabia and Egypt.

Saudi Arabia, Xi's first stop, has been at odds with Iran since Saudi authorities executed a Shiite cleric, Nimr al Nimr, on Jan. 2.

Riyadh severed ties with Tehran after Iranian protesters stormed the Kingdom's embassy in Tehran and its consulate in Mashhad.

China has called on both countries to exercise calm and restraint.


TRTWorld and agencies