Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi said Tehran wanted to “expand its long-term strategic relations” with China at a meeting with Beijing’s Defense Minister Wei Fenghe in Tehran on Wednesday.
Raisi told Fenghe that Tehran sees its ties with Beijing as strategic.
Closer cooperation would serve to confront what the Iranian president described as US “unilateralism” as talks to revive Tehran’s nuclear deal with world powers have stalled, Associated Press reported.
Raisi stressed that “regional and global developments show more than ever the value of Iran-China strategic cooperation.”
“Confronting unilateralism and creating stability and order is possible through cooperation of independent and like-minded powers,” he added.
Raisi said Iran’s “priority” was the “successful implementation of the 25-year comprehensive cooperation plan” it signed with China in March 2021.
The deal includes “political, strategic and economic clauses,” according to Tehran.
Wei in turn said improving ties between Iran and China would provide security, “particularly in the current critical and tense situation.”
He said his visit was aimed at improving the bilateral strategic defense cooperation that would have a “remarkable” impact in defusing unilateralism and fighting terrorism.
Wei also met with his Iranian counterpart, Gen. Mohammad Reza Ashtinai, who underscored “the need to counter the US hegemony in the world by strengthening multilateralism,” an Iranian defense ministry statement read.
Ashtiani also slammed the US military presence in the Middle East and elsewhere, claiming that “wherever the US has had military presence, it has created waves of insecurity, instability, rifts, pessimism, war, destruction and displacement.”
Wei reportedly invited Ashtiani to visit China, as well as with other Iranian military officials.
Iran and China have increased their military ties in recent years, with their navies visiting each other’s ports and holding joint naval drills in the Indian Ocean.
In 2021, Iran and China signed a 25-year strategic cooperation agreement that covered a variety of economic activities from oil and mining to promoting industrial activity in Iran, as well as transportation and agricultural collaborations.
China is a signatory to the nuclear deal between Iran and world powers, along with Russia, Britain, France and Germany.
Figures published by Iran’s state media show that trade with China dropped after Washington reimposed biting economic sanctions on Iran in 2018, when then-president Donald Trump unilaterally withdrew from the nuclear deal.
But exports to China have surged by 58 percent in the past 12 months, while imports from China grew by 29 percent, AFP reported.