China Angling for Greater Role in Iran Nuclear Talks

AP Photo/Vahid Salemi
AP Photo/Vahid Salemi

Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi insisted on a diplomatic trip to Tehran that the Iranian regime must secure a nuclear deal with world powers in order to open up the country for economic development, Reuters reports.

The negotiators involved in the talks between Iran and the U.S., Russia, China, France, U.K., and Germany have set a self-imposed June 30 deadline for a final agreement and a March deadline for a “basic framework.” The deadline, however, has frequently been moved back in recent months, as nuclear talks have been ongoing for over a year.

Wang told Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif on Monday, according to China’s Foreign Ministry, “Talks on the Iran nuclear issue face a historic opportunity, and striking a comprehensive deal on schedule is the trend of the times and the desire of the people.”

The Chinese Foreign Minister added, “Reaching comprehensive agreement is beneficial to Iran upholding its own legal rights, including the right to the peaceful use of nuclear power, and for the people of Iran to throw off the difficulties of sanctions as early as possible and focus on energetically developing the economy.”

Wang then met with Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, where he complemented Rouhani in promising not to build nuclear weapons. In Iran’s political system, however, Rouhani is a figurehead and any power designated to him can be usurped by the country’s Ayatollah Khamenei.

“The Iran talks have reached a crucial stage,” Wang reportedly told Rouhani. Reuters reports that China and Iran maintain a close economic partnership. China’s crude oil imports increased almost 30 percent last year, and the country remains Iran’s biggest oil trade partner.

Wang said China was open to an even closer partnership with the Islamic Republic. He stated, “China is willing to encourage even more Chinese companies to invest in Iran and build factories via the joint development of industrial parks in accordance with Iran’s development needs and China’s ability.”