Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani says Chinese President Xi Jinping’s official visit to Iran marks a “historic” event in relations between Tehran and Beijing.
“The important visit by … President Xi Jinping…marks an important historic event and I am sure that a new chapter has started in relations between Iran and China,” Rouhani said alongside Xi in Tehran on Saturday.
Rouhani said that the Islamic Republic welcomes stronger ties with China particularly after the recent lifting of international sanctions on Iran.
He also said Iran and China have agreed on more cooperation to “combat regional terrorism.”
He said he and his Chinese counterpart discussed cooperation for “creating stability and security in the Middle East and helping countries plagued by terrorism, including Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria and Yemen, and providing intellectual and intelligence assistance in the fight on terrorism.”
For his part, Xi said he has traveled to Iran to prepare the ground for a new “prospect in relations between the two countries.”
He noted that Iran-China strong cooperation will not only benefit the governments and nations of the two countries, but also would serve “regional and global peace.”
Xi said he seeks “strategic ties with Iran”, particularly in energy market.
China, a top oil consumer, has been a top buyer of Iran’s crude. Even after international sanctions targeted Tehran’s energy sector, China continued its cooperation with Iran by purchasing oil and developing energy projects.
Iran and China signed 17 documents for cooperation in economic, industrial, cultural and judicial fields in the presence of the two countries’ presidents.
The documents included one signed between Iranian and Chinese nuclear chiefs for peaceful energy cooperation.
Others involved documents for environmental cooperation, financing of a bullet train railway and banking cooperation.
The Chinese president’s trip to Tehran is the last leg of his three-nation tour which has also taken him to Saudi Arabia and Egypt.
The value of trade transactions between Tehran and Beijing stood at some $52 billion in 2014. However, the figure dropped in 2015 due to decreasing oil prices.
China remains Iran’s top trade partner. According to China’s Commerce Department, during the first 11 months of 2015, China imported 24.36 million tons of crude oil from Iran, or 8 percent of its total imports.
China’s oil companies have also been increasing investment in oil projects overseas.
Following the recent removal of sanctions, Iran is once again open to global business, which makes the market more competitive as many global companies are already moving to resume trade with Iran.