China and Iran on Saturday signed a 25-year cooperation agreement as a part of Beijing’s flagship trillion-dollar Belt and Road Initiative.
The China-Iran pact, which Tehran said included “political, strategic and economic” components, was signed by foreign ministers Wang Yi and Mohammad Javad Zarif. The signing was ceremony broadcast live on state television.
“Our relations with Iran will not be affected by the current situation, but will be permanent and strategic,” Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi was quoted by Iranian news agencies as saying.
Negotiations for the deal were launched five years ago. No details of its contents have been released.
China is Iran’s leading trade partner and was one of the biggest buyers of Iranian oil before former US president Donald Trump reimposed unilateral sanctions in 2018 after abandoning a multilateral nuclear agreement with Tehran.
Wang met President Hassan Rouhani ahead of the signing of the agreement, which is expected to include Chinese investments in key sectors such as energy and infrastructure.
The accord is an example of “successful diplomacy,” Rouhani’s adviser Hesameddin Ashena was cited by Iranian media as saying. “A country’s strength is in its ability to join coalitions, not to remain isolated.”
Saeed Khatibzadeh, an Iranian foreign ministry spokesman, said the document was a “roadmap” for trade, economic and transportation cooperation, with a “special focus on the private sectors of the two sides.”
China, one of Iran’s largest trading partners and a long-standing ally, agreed in 2016 to boost bilateral trade by more than 10 times to $600 billion over a decade.
Its commerce ministry said on Thursday that Beijing will try to safeguard the 2015 Iran nuclear deal and defend the legitimate interests of Sino-Iranian relations.