China announces Iran deal, bolsters opposition to US sanctions

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China announces Iran deal, bolsters opposition to US sanctions

While reinforcing its opposition to US sanctions against Iran, China on Saturday announced the implementation of a 25-year strategic agreement with Tehran, expanding economic and political cooperation between the two countries.

Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi and his Iranian counterpart Hossein Amir-Abdollahian met on Friday in Wuxi, east China, according to a statement from the Beijing Foreign Ministry.

“While preparing to visit China, we plan to mark today as the start of the implementation of the agreement between the two countries,” said the Iranian foreign minister, who is on his first trip to China in office, without announcing specific projects or partnerships, according to the Al Jazeera website.

In the statement, Wang said the agreement will deepen Sino-Iranian cooperation in areas such as energy, infrastructure, agriculture, health and culture, as well as cybersecurity and collaboration with other countries.

The treaty was signed in 2021, after years of negotiations between the countries, and sets up Iran’s entry into the Belt and Road Initiative, a trillion-dollar infrastructure project to link East Asia with Europe.

The initiative aims to significantly expand China’s political and economic influence, raising concerns in the US and elsewhere.

There are not many more details about the agreement, but the American newspaper The New York Times reported, in 2020, that one of the projects would guarantee regular oil supplies to China.

Beijing is Tehran’s top trading partner and was one of its biggest oil buyers until then-President Donald Trump reimposed sanctions on the Persian country in 2018. Officially, China has stopped imports, but analysts say the oil Iranians continue to enter, but with official origin from other countries.

Beijing’s quest to strengthen ties with Tehran has been going on for some years now. In a rare visit to the Persian country in 2016, Chinese leader Xi Jinping called the Islamic Republic “China’s main partner in the Middle East”.

Wang used the moment to reinforce Beijing’s opposition to the sanctions imposed by Washington on Tehran and declared his support for the resumption of negotiations on the nuclear deal – abandoned by Trump in 2018.

Talks resumed, indirectly, last year, with diplomats from Iran, the United Kingdom, China, Germany, Russia and France, in Vienna. A person close to the negotiations told the Reuters news agency, however, that many issues remained unresolved. The head of European diplomacy, Josep Borrell, on Friday considered it possible to reach an agreement in the coming weeks.​

Wang said the Americans are primarily responsible for the difficulties faced as he disembarked from the deal. The diplomat also took aim at rival US – with whom China is living a kind of Cold War 2.0 – by opposing, in addition to sanctions, political manipulation through topics such as human rights and interference in the internal affairs of Iran and other countries. regional.

Tehran’s official press reported on Saturday that the negotiators had returned to their respective countries for consultations and that they would return to the Austrian capital within two days. According to the agency, the negotiations are at a critical point, in which difficult issues will be addressed. “We are in the details phase, the most difficult part of the negotiations, but one that is essential to achieve our objective.”

The 2015 agreement, known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), contemplated lifting some economic sanctions against Iran in exchange for strict limits on its nuclear program.

After Trump withdrew the US from the pact, Iran went beyond the limits of nuclear activity. In recent months, the country has begun to enrich uranium to unprecedented levels and has restricted the activities of inspectors from the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), the UN body responsible for overseeing Iranian installations.

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