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China, Iran implement sweeping strategic pact

It would secure a regular supply of oil for China

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BEIJING (AFP) — China said Saturday it would begin implementing a strategic agreement with Iran, strengthening economic and political cooperation between the two countries as Beijing blasted Washington’s sanctions on Tehran.

China and Iran signed the agreement last year after years of talks, with the wide-ranging partnership set to span areas including energy, security, infrastructure and communications.

Chinese foreign minister Wang Yi and Iranian counterpart Hossein Amir-Abdollahian announced the start of the partnership’s implementation at a meeting in east China’s Wuxi on Friday, Beijing’s foreign ministry said in a statement.

Few details of the secretive deal have been published, but the New York Times reported in 2020 that it would secure a regular supply of oil for China, citing a draft of the agreement leaked to the paper.

China is Iran’s leading trade partner and was one of the biggest buyers of the country’s oil before then-United States president Donald Trump reimposed sweeping unilateral sanctions in 2018.

China has officially stopped importing oil from Iran, but analysts say Iranian crude is continuing to enter the country disguised as imports from other countries.

Wang told his Iranian counterpart Friday that China would continue to “oppose illegal unilateral sanctions against Iran,” the foreign ministry said.

Beijing has long sought to boost ties with Tehran, with Chinese president Xi Jinping describing Iran as “China’s major partner in the Middle East” on a rare visit to the country in 2016.

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