Iranian President Hassan Rouhani met his Chinese counterpart at the Sa’dabad palace in Tehran Saturday, where they reportedly discussed economic and regional security matters. Chinese President Xi Jinping, who arrived in Tehran Friday night, became the first international leader to visit Iran since Western sanctions against the country were lifted Jan. 16.
Calling the visit an “important historic event,” Rouhani said he was “sure that a new chapter has started in relations between Iran and China,” Press TV, Iran’s state-owned television channel, reported.
“We are happy that President Xi visited Iran after the lifting of sanctions. Iran and China have agreed to increase trade to $600 billion in the next 10 years,” the Iranian president said at the news conference with Xi, which was broadcast live on state television, Reuters reported.
“China stands ready to work with Iran to seize the momentum and further elevate our relationship and practical cooperation, so as to usher in a new chapter for our ties featuring comprehensive, long-term and stable development,” Xi said after arriving in Tehran, China's official Xinhua News Agency reported.
Rouhani also said the two leaders 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,” Press TV reported.
The Chinese leader agreed, saying the cooperation between the two countries would serve “regional and global peace.”
Xi said that he sought “strategic ties with Iran,” especially in the energy market. China remained the top buyer for Iran’s oil and continued buying oil from Iran despite the Western sanctions, circumventing them by reportedly developing energy projects in Iran to pay for the crude oil.
The two countries signed 17 agreements covering areas of energy, trade, industry, environment and technology, among others. Development of China’s ambitious Silk Road project was also among the issues agreed upon, IRNA news agency reported. There was also an agreement between the nuclear chiefs of the two countries for cooperation on peaceful energy, according to Press TV.
The Chinese president was scheduled to meet Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei later in the day.
The visit was the first to Iran by a Chinese leader in 14 years. Xi also visited Saudi Arabia and Egypt as part of his ongoing Middle East tour that began Tuesday.