China calls for Iran sanctions to be lifted during Raisi’s visit

China’s President Xi Jinping and his Iranian counterpart Ebrahim Raisi have called for the lifting of sanctions on Iran, as a three-day “fruitful” trip to China by the Iranian leader drew to a close.

Iran agreed with major world powers in 2015 to rein in its nuclear programme in return for the lifting of punishing sanctions, but then-President Donald Trump in 2018 pulled the United States out of the deal – known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) – and reinstated the economic measures.

Efforts to revive the agreement have stalled for months. The US and Israel have accused Iran of seeking to build nuclear weapons, a claim it denies.

Beijing and Tehran blamed the current tensions on Washington’s “unilateral withdrawal” from the deal.

“Both sides emphasised that lifting sanctions and ensuring Iran’s economic dividends are an important component of the agreement,” they said in the joint communique.

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“All relevant sanctions should be fully abolished in a verifiable manner, promoting the agreement’s full and effective implementation.”

China also stated that it “firmly opposes interference by external forces in Iran’s internal affairs and undermining Iran’s security and stability.”

The two sides signed a number of bilateral cooperation documents in the fields of agriculture, trade, tourism, environmental protection, health, disaster relief, culture and sport.

Xi also “gladly accepted” an invitation from Raisi to visit Iran and would do so at his convenience, the joint statement said. Xi last visited Iran in 2016 as part of a tour of the Middle East.

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