Tehran and Beijing sign 25-year cooperation agreement

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Iran and China sign a 25-year strategic and commercial cooperation agreement in Tehran on Saturday that has been under discussion for several years.

This “complete roadmap”, comprising “political, strategic and economic clauses” for “25 years of Iran-China cooperation (…) will be signed” on Saturday, on the occasion of the visit of the Chinese Foreign Minister , Wang Yi, who arrived in Tehran on Friday evening, said Iranian Foreign Affairs spokesman Saïd Khatibzadeh.

China is the Islamic Republic of Iran’s largest trading partner and was a major buyer of Iranian crude before the reinstatement in 2018 of US sanctions against the Iranian energy sector, which significantly reduced Tehran’s oil exports. .

“We believe that this document can be very effective in deepening” Sino-Iranian relations, Khatibzadeh told state television, recalling that the genesis of this project dates back to the visit of Chinese President Xi Jinping, in Tehran in January 2016 where he notably met the Iranian Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

Saied Khatibzadeh

Tehran and Beijing had then “committed to conducting negotiations for the signing of an extended cooperation agreement over 25 years” and “to cooperate and have reciprocal investments in the various fields, in particular transport, ports, energy, industry and services ”, according to a joint statement published on the occasion of this visit.

“The Iranian government and people are seeking, as they always have done, to expand their relations with independent and reliable countries such as China,” Khamenei said on occasion, deeming “quite correct and wise ”the Sino-Iranian project, also presented as a“ comprehensive strategic partnership ”.

The agreement is expected to be signed at midday at the Iranian Foreign Ministry between Mr. Wang and his Iranian counterpart Mohammad Javad Zarif.

“Nothing secret”

In July 2020, a controversy had stirred Iranian social networks after remarks made by former President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to denounce the negotiations underway according to him for “a new 25-year agreement with a foreign country”, without the knowledge of the people.

Heckled during an intervention in Parliament, Mr. Zarif then retorted that there was “nothing secret” in the ongoing discussions with Beijing, promising that the nation would be informed “when an agreement is reached”.

To date, the broad outlines of the agreement, which would involve Iran in the New Silk Roads project, dear to President Xi Jinping, have not been disclosed.

A permanent member of the UN Security Council, China is one of Tehran’s partners in the 2015 Iranian nuclear deal.

Since the United States withdrew from this pact in 2018 and restored in the wake of punitive sanctions against the Islamic Republic, Beijing has instead shown its support for Tehran in the face of this unilateral approach by the former president. American, Donald Trump.

Mr. Wang’s visit to Iran, days after visiting Russia, comes amid persistent tensions between Moscow, Beijing and Tehran on one side and the United States on the other since the arrival of Jo Biden at the White House in January.