Iran ties to be upgraded

Updated: 2015-09-16 09:38

By Zhang Yunbi and Qin Jize(China Daily USA)

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Beijing, Teheran agree to begin reconciliation in a 'new phase' leading to strategic partnership

China and Iran agreed on Tuesday to start reconciliation for the establishment of a bilateral strategic partnership, at a time when China has been expected to play a bigger role in boosting Iran's development.

Following talks between Foreign Minister Wang Yi and his Iranian counterpart Mohammad Javad Zarif on Tuesday morning, the two top diplomats confirmed at a news conference that there are plans to upgrade the relationship.

The July signing of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action over Iran's nuclear program was a landmark event for the Middle Eastern country, which has long suffered from sanctions.

Zarif told reporters that China is a friend indeed, and that "when Iran has a difficult time", Chinese companies have maintained collaboration, adding that Iran is ready to "embark on more strategic cooperation with China".

Wang said that "the external circumstances of Iran have been significantly improved" and China-Iran ties are "entering a new phase".

The two foreign ministers also agreed that China's transcontinental Belt and Road Initiative could link with the development strategies of Iran.

Premier Li Keqiang, who met with Zarif later in the day, highlighted potential cooperation in production capacity that could be mutually beneficial, as well as collaboration on energy.

Li noted that Iran currently is "undergoing a crucial period for expanding its infrastructure construction and advancing industrialization", while China enjoys cost-effective equipment and leading technologies.

Yin Gang, an expert on Middle East affairs at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, said, "The thriving of Iran could have been here earlier if it were not for the nuclear issue."

The country is embracing revitalization in the near future, and there are huge prospects for cooperation with China, given the traditional relations between the two countries, Yin said, adding that "China could maintain its collaboration with Iran" because the country has a stable government and domestic climate.

Wang highlighted Iran's role as "a major country in the Middle East", saying that "the resolution of regional hot spot (issues) cannot be achieved without the participation of Iran".

Iran ties to be upgraded

"The two countries should jointly champion and boost the peace and stability of the region and the neighborhood of the two countries," the premier said.

Li Shaoxian, a senior expert on Middle East affairs at the China Institutes of Contemporary International Relations, said that the Plan of Action marks a new chapter for Iran and that the country's capacity for tackling or coordinating on hot spot issues has been greatly limited in the past.

"Its influence has not been fully tapped into," he said.

Meanwhile, on the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, Premier Li said that "all the parties hope to effectively implement this agreement" and that China will play a constructive role in ultimately resolving the Iranian nuclear issue.

Foreign Minister Wang called for mutual understanding among the parties involved in light of the possible problems and challenges ahead in the decade-long process of executing the Plan of Action.

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 Iran ties to be upgraded

Premier Li Keqiang meets with Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif on Tuesday in Beijing. Wu Zhiyi / China Daily

(China Daily USA 09/16/2015 page3)