China will fund $20 billion in Iranian development projects, in a deal brokered by Ali Larijani, speaker of the Iranian Parliament. REUTERS

A top Iranian official says that China has agreed to fund $20 billion in development projects in his country in light of their assets being blocked due to international sanctions, according to a report in Iranian media website Tasnim News Agency cited by the Associated Press.

As the A.P. noted, Hossein Sobhani-Nia, a member of the Iranian Parliament’s presiding board, said the deal was reached after Iran’s Parliament speaker Ali Larijani traveled to Beijing on Tuesday to talk with Chinese leaders about strengthening political, economic and cultural ties between the two countries. Sobhani-Nia was a member of the delegation.

Iranian government spokesman Mohammad Baqer Nobakht announced shortly after the meeting that $22 billion of Iran’s assets -- mostly revenue from oil exports -- have been blocked in China due to sanctions by the UN Security Council over their nuclear program, Tasnim News Agency said.

Economic ties between the two countries are stronger than ever. According to the Tasnim News Agency, China imported 16.01 million tons -- 428,160 barrels a day -- of Iranian oil during the first nine months of 2013. Beijing pays for the oil by making deposits into an internal bank account, which can only be used for buying commodities within China and exporting them to Iran.

Iran is the third largest supplier of crude oil to China, Tasnim reports, accounting for 12 percent of its annual total consumption. The two countries have a bilateral trade volume of over $40 billion.