China wants to establish a closer military cooperation with state-sponsor of terrorism Iran, reportedly indicated a senior Chinese admiral after meeting with Iran’s defense minister in Tehran on Thursday.
“The aim of this delegation’s visit is to further promote friendship, deepen cooperation and exchange views with Iran on bilateral military ties and issues of mutual concern,” said Chinese Adm. Sun Jianguo, deputy chief of staff of the People’s Liberation Army, according to a statement from China’s Defense Ministry.
Iran has been officially designated as the world’s most active state sponsor of terrorism by the United States.
China’s trip to Iran will also “promote the preservation of international and regional peace and stability,” said Sun, Reuters reports.
China and Iran share a close diplomatic, economic, trade, and energy relationship, notes Reuters, adding that China has been an active player in persuading both the United States and Iran to reach an agreement on Tehran’s controversial nuclear program.
Under a nuclear deal reached in July, sanctions imposed by America, the European Union, and the United Nations are expected to be lifted in exchange for Iran agreeing to curb its nuclear program.
Although Iran claims its nuclear program is peaceful, the West suspects the Shiite powerhouse wants to build an atomic weapon.
China, the largest consumer of Iranian oil, welcomed the nuclear agreement, said the Chinese admiral.
China is a member of the P5+1 group of super powers that negotiated the agreement.
“Last year, for the first time ever, two Chinese warships docked at Iran’s Bandar Abbas port to take part in a joint naval exercises in the Gulf and an Iranian admiral was given tours of a Chinese submarine and warships,” reports Reuters.
“Iran and Russia have both provided support for President Bashar al-Assad in Syria’s civil war. China, however, remains a low key diplomatic player in the Middle East despite its dependence on the region’s oil,” it adds. “Beijing has repeatedly warned that military action cannot end the crisis in Syria and has called multiple times for talks and a political solution.”
Russia, which began launching airstrikes in Syria at the end of last month, has formed a new coalition of nations to combat the Islamic State (ISIS/ISIL) that does not include the United States.
Moscow recently reached an anti-ISIS intelligence sharing agreement with Iran, Iraq, and Syria.
China and the United States are in disagreement over territorial claims in the disputed South China Sea.