Friday, 17 January, 2020

Iran, China boosting strategic partnership as FM Zarif visits Beijing

The top diplomats of Iran and China have emphasized the need for the two countries to strengthen their strategic relations and keep up consultations on issues of bilateral and international significance.

In a meeting with his Chinese counterpart, Wang Yi, in Beijing on Tuesday, Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said that establishing strategic ties shows the two sides’ keenness to reinforce their cooperation.

“We need to keep up regular bilateral consultations on a variety of issues and this trip serves that purpose,” he added.

Zarif further hailed China for supporting Iran’s stance on the international stage.

He also criticized unilateral US sanctions against Iran, calling on the world community to counter unilateralism and back multilateralism.

The Chinese foreign minister, for his part, underscored the necessity of strengthening ties with Iran.

In the current situation, he added, the two countries should exchange views on different issues in addition to maintaining contact.

Zarif arrived in Beijing earlier in the day following a visit to the Russian capital, Moscow.

Prior to Zarif’s arrival, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Geng Shuang said the Iran nuclear deal would be on the agenda of the talks between Zarif and Wang.

“China would like to work with Iran to ensure the steady development of the China-Iran comprehensive strategic partnership, safeguard the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), and uphold peace and stability of the [Persian] Gulf Region in the Middle East,” he said, referring to the nuclear accord by its official name.

Elsewhere in his remarks, Geng described China and Russia — two of the signatories to the JCPOA — as “comprehensive strategic partners of coordination,” adding that that they have been “in close communication and coordination on the Iranian nuclear issue and other major international and regional hotspot issues.”

The JCPOA was signed between Iran and six world states — namely the US, Germany, France, Britain, Russia and China — in 2015. It was also ratified in the form of a UN Security Council resolution.

However, Washington’s unilateral exit in May 2018 and subsequent re-imposition of sanctions against Tehran left the future of the historic agreement in limbo.

In compliance with Articles 26 and 36 of the JCPOA, the Islamic Republic has, since May 2019, gone through four stages in scaling back parts of its commitments in retaliation for the US’s pullout and Europe’s failure to protect Iran against the American sanctions.

Iran, Russia: US exit from JCPOA endangers region, world

At a joint press conference after their meeting in Moscow on Monday, Zarif and Lavrov said the United States’ withdrawal from the JCPOA constitutes a serious reversal in the consultation process on the Iran nuclear issue and poses a threat to the security of the Persian Gulf region and the entire world.

Lavrov stressed that Washington has grossly trampled on the rule of international law, urging the US and the EU to either comply with the terms of the nuclear agreement, or recognize it as nonexistent.

“If the Western partners are not ready to adopt a respectful attitude toward international law and the deal reached between us, the JCPOA probably should be recognized as good as dead,” he said.

Zarif, for his part, condemned the US sanctions on Iran, emphasizing that Tehran has scaled back its obligations under the JCPOA, but it still complies with relevant clauses.

He further complained that some European countries, pressured by the US, have stopped implementing their commitments.

“Although the European countries have politically supported the deal, they have, in reality, failed to fulfill their obligations or take any measures against US sanctions. Thus, we call on the European countries to fulfill their obligations under the JCPOA. We share the exactly same stance with Russia on this issue,” the Iranian foreign minister said.

Zarif’s visits to Moscow and Beijing come after the navies of Iran, Russia and China concluded their first-ever trilateral drills in the Indian Ocean and the Gulf of Oman with a focus on anti-piracy and counter-terrorism tactics.

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