China’s Xi to make state visit to Iran: foreign ministry

BEIJING (AFP): Chinese President Xi Jinping will make a state visit to Iran, Beijing’s foreign ministry said Thursday, as a three-day trip to China by the Islamic republic’s leader drew to a close.

Xi “gladly accepted the invitation” by Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi, according to a joint statement by both countries, although no date was given.

The trip would be Xi’s first visit to Iran since 2016.

Beijing and Tehran have strong economic ties and in 2021 signed a 25-year “strategic cooperation pact”.

Both countries are under pressure from Western nations over their positions on Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, while Iran is under strict US sanctions due to its nuclear programme.

Thursday’s communique blamed Washington for current tensions and called for the sanctions to be lifted, saying that “ensuring Iran’s economic dividends” was an “important part” of the 2015 nuclear deal.

It called for the agreement, which then-president Donald Trump withdrew the US from in 2018, to be “fully and effectively implemented”.

Xi on Tuesday hailed Beijing’s “solidarity” with Iran and praised the two countries’ mutual support “in the face of the current complex changes in the world, times, and history”, according to state broadcaster CCTV.

China “supports Iran in safeguarding national sovereignty, independence, territorial integrity and national dignity and in resisting unilateralism and hegemonism”, Xi said.