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China deputy premier to Raeisi: Beijing always respects Iran’s sovereignty, territorial integrity

Iranian President Ebrahim Raeisi has met with the visiting Chinese deputy prime minister in the capital Tehran, with the latter stressing that Beijing has invariably recognized and respected Iran's territorial integrity and interests.

The meeting took place on Tuesday after Hu Chunhua, heading a high-ranking trade and economic delegation, arrived in Tehran to pursue the implementation of the 25-year comprehensive cooperation agreement between China and Iran.

Raeisi underlined that the relations between Tehran and Beijing have been expanding since the 1979 Islamic Revolution, saying, however, “Some positions raised during the Chinese president’s recent visit to the region caused dissatisfaction and grievance among the people and in the government of Iran, and Iran’s serious demand is for [China] to make up for the declared positions.”

He praised the presence of the Chinese delegation in Iran as “significant” for the development of trade and economic cooperation between the two countries.

Raeisi pointed to the important agreements reached in the previous meetings of the two countries’ presidents and emphasized efforts made by the officials in both sides to implement them.

Hu, for his part, conveyed the Chinese President Xi Jinping’s warm greetings to the Iranian president and emphasized Beijing’s interest in further developing relations with Tehran.

He said China’s resolve to develop relations with strong Iran is a permanent strategy of his country.

“China will preserve the determination to strengthen and deepen relations with the Islamic Republic of Iran, regardless of regional and international developments,” he said.

The Chinese deputy premier reaffirmed, “China has always respected the national sovereignty and territorial integrity of the Islamic Republic of Iran and supports Iran’s efforts to secure its basic interests.”

Hu went on to say that the two sides are taking a big step toward  the implementation of a strategic partnership agreement with the beginning of the joint investment operations of tens of billions of dollars and the development of economic, industrial, energy, transit, financial and banking cooperation.

Iran and China signed a landmark 25-year comprehensive strategic partnership agreement in March 2021 in defiance of the US’ unilateral sanctions.

The deal officially documents the Sino-Iranian Comprehensive Strategic Partnership that was announced during a visit by Xi to Tehran in 2016. It sets the outlines of the two countries’ cooperation in political, cultural, security, defense, regional, and international domains for the next 25 years.

At a regular press conference on Monday, China’s Foreign Ministry spokesperson Wang Wenbin reaffirmed his country’s traditional friendly relations with Iran, saying Beijing’s ties with Tehran and its relations with the member states of the Persian Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) do not target any third party.

Wenbin pointed to the importance of a recently-held China-GCC Summit for the expansion of relations between the two sides, saying that it led to issuance of a joint statement by China and the GCC and adoption of a 2023-2027 action plan for strategic dialogue between the two sides. 

In the joint statement, which was issued at end of the summit in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, on Friday, the leaders affirmed their support for what the called “all peaceful efforts, including the initiative and endeavors of the United Arab Emirates” to reach a peaceful solution to the issue of the three Persian Gulf islands through bilateral negotiations.

For many years, the UAE has been laying unfounded and baseless claims to the ownership of the three islands, turning a blind eye to the fact that all historical realities and countless documents prove that they belong to Iran. Iran, on the other hand, has time and again reiterated that the three islands of Abu Musa, the Greater Tunb and the Lesser Tunb in the Persian Gulf are inseparable parts of its territory and their status is not open to any negotiations.

Moreover, the Chinese president met Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman in the capital Riyadh on Thursday and signed a China-Saudi partnership pact to deepen bilateral ties after receiving a lavish reception by the ultra-conservative de facto leader.

The pact was widely bashed by critics and censured as a disregard for the Sino-Iranian Comprehensive Strategic Partnership, raising speculations that Beijing was reviewing longstanding ties with Tehran.

In a joint final statement in Riyadh, Xi agreed on the need to “strengthen joint cooperation to ensure the peaceful nature of Iran’s nuclear program,” and for Tehran to respect “principles of good-neighborliness.”

Respecting Iran’s territorial integrity ‘an inviolable principle’

In another development on Tuesday, Iranian Vice President Mohammad Mokhber and the Chinese deputy prime minister met and emphasized the implementation of the 25-year partnership deal.

Mokhber and Hu called for expediting the implementation of agreements reached between Beijing and Tehran, and underlined the necessity of paying heed to Iran’s territorial integrity as an “important and inviolable principle.”

The Iranian vice president  said respecting the territorial integrity of the Islamic Republic is of “great significance” in the eyes of the Iranian people and officials.

Mokhber also said Iran and China have the same positions in confronting the Western unilateralism, adding that good and constructive negotiations were ongoing between the two countries regarding various issues.

Hu, for his part, said Beijing’s determination to expand comprehensive strategic ties with Iran will never alter, and that China supports national dignity and territorial integrity of the Islamic Republic as well as its fight against foreign intervention in the country.

The Chinese official also called for the expansion of coordination and collaboration with Iran in the field of fighting terrorism.

Hu pointed to the Iran-China 25-year cooperation deal and praised as “positive and important” the achievements made by agreements between the two sides.

“These achievements are important and positive for both sides, which are the result of joint efforts, and Beijing wishes to strengthen its cooperation and coordination with Tehran so that the process of developing relations between the two countries continues,” he added.

At the end of their negotiations, Iran and China finalized 16 understandings between the two countries to implement their 25-year roadmap for strategic partnership.

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