China, Iran launch 25-year cooperation agreement

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China, Iran launch 25-year cooperation agreement

SHANGHAI, Jan 15, Reuters -- China reaffirmed its opposition to unilateral sanctions by the United States against Iran as the Chinese and Iranian foreign ministers announced the launch of a 25-year cooperation agreement aimed at strengthening economic and political ties.

In a meeting held on Friday in the city of Wuxi in Jiangsu province, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi backed efforts to revive a 2015 nuclear deal between major powers and Iran.

A summary of the meeting between Wang and Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amirabdollahian was posted on Saturday by China's foreign ministry website.

Wang, who is also State Councillor, said the U.S. bore the primary responsibility for the ongoing difficulties with Iran, having unilaterally withdrawn from a 2015 nuclear deal between the major powers and Iran.

Iran would limit uranium enrichment activity in exchange for the lifting of international sanctions, making it harder to develop nuclear weapons - although Tehran denies having plans for nuclear weapons.

Wang said China would support a resumption of negotiations on a nuclear pact.

He said that China strongly opposes unilateral sanctions against Iran, political manipulation through topics including human rights and interference in the internal affairs of Iran and other regional countries.

The United States imposed sanctions that badly damaged Iran's economy after withdrawing from the nuclear pact in 2018, saying the terms did not do enough to curb Iran's nuclear activities, ballistic missile program and regional influence.

A year later, Iran began to breach the agreement, rebuilding stockpiles of enriched uranium, refining it to higher fissile purity and installing advanced centrifuges to speed up output.

China and Iran signed the 25-year cooperation agreement last March, bringing Iran into China's Belt and Road Initiative, a multi-trillion dollar infrastructure scheme intended to stretch from East Asia to Europe.

The foreign ministry summary said that the agreement would deepen Sino-Iranian cooperation in areas such as energy, infrastructure, agriculture, health care and culture, as well as cyber security and cooperation with other countries.

Iran and the US are locked in talks over whether a compromise can be found to renew the deal and dispel fears of a wider Middle East War. A source close to negotiations said on Friday that many issues remain unresolved.

He said that China hopes to establish a dialogue mechanism with Gulf countries to discuss regional security issues after meeting with several Gulf Arab countries concerned about the potential threat from Iran earlier in the week.