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China praises 'solidarity' with Iran during Raisi visit

February 14, 2023

Chinese leader Xi Jinping noted the decades of cooperation between the two countries. Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi's visit to China comes amid tensions between both countries and Western governments.

Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi meets with Chinese President Xi Jinping in Bejing
Raisi was greeted by Xi Jinping on the red carpet during an official welcoming ceremony in BeijingImage: AP/picture alliance

Chinese leader Xi Jinping lavished praise on Iran Monday, as Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi began his three-day visit to China. 

The meeting in Beijing comes as both Iran and China face increasingly strained ties with Western governments and is the first state visit by an Iranian president to China in more than 20 years.

China, Iran hail cooperation amid tensions with West

"In the face of the current complex changes in the world, times, and history, China and Iran have supported each other (and) worked together in solidarity and cooperation," Xi said in remarks cited by Chinese state-run news outlet CCTV.   

According to Iran's state-owned Islamic Republic News Agency, Raisi described "Iran and China as two friends in hard times."  

Raisi's three-day visit to China comes as both countries have been condemned and sanctioned by the West on various issues. 

Western countries such as the US and Germany, for example, have criticized Iran's nuclear ambitions and its crackdown on anti-government protesters, with Washington and Berlin also critical of China's drills near Taiwan and its treatment of the Muslim Uyghur minority in Xinjiang. 

In addition, Iran and China have been criticized by the West for not condemning Russia's war on Ukraine. Russia has even used Iranian drones to carry out attacks on Ukrainian cities, with the Iranian government rejecting it supplied the weapons. 

Zelenskyy: Iran 'lying' about prewar drone sales to Russia

On the issue of Tehran's nuclear program, Xi told Raisi that Iran has a right to safeguard its interests. Xi said Beijing will continue to "participate constructively" on international negotiations regarding the 2015 Iran nuclear deal.

US President Donald Trump pulled out of the Iran nuclear agreement in 2018, saying the Iranian government was not holding up its end of the bargain. The agreement, known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, lifted sanctions on Iran in return for Tehran's promises that it won't develop a nuclear weapon.  

"No matter how the international and regional situation changes, China will unswervingly develop friendly cooperation with Iran," Xi remarked.

Closer economic cooperation  

Iran and China also deepened their economic ties during the visit. China is Iran's biggest trading partner. 

Iranian media reported that China and Iran signed 20 cooperation documents during the visit, in areas such as tourism, international commerce, and technology. 

Raisi is accompanied on the China trip by a large trade and finance delegation. 

Xi previously held talks with Raisi at the Shanghai Cooperation Organization summit in Uzbekistan last September.

wd/rs (AFP, Reuters)