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Iran and China agree to closer ties

By Ann Marie Awad   |   Jan. 23, 2016 at 7:44 PM
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TEHRAN, Jan. 23 (UPI) -- In a historic visit to Tehran, Chinese President Xi Jinping met with Iranian President Hassan Rouhani and agreed on closer economic and political ties between their two countries.

The International Business Times reported the two leaders agreed to 17 accords, which included the revival of the historic Silk Road trade route and the pursuit of peaceful nuclear energy.

"We are delighted to see this trip takes place at a very appropriate, historical time in the post-sanctions era and today we can talk about and sign contracts on issues of mutual interest and reach a final document," said President Rouhani, adding that the two leaders agreed to boost mutual trade by up to $600 billion.

China will aid Iran in the modernization of the Arak heavy-water nuclear reactor. The fate of the reactor was decided in the Iran nuclear deal, known as the JCPOA, implemented last week. In order for sanctions against Iran to be lifted, Arak's core had to be removed to ensure the reactor would not be used to develop a nuclear weapon. The BBC reported last week that the core had been removed and filled with cement.

China had been one of the nations to participate in JCPOA. The other nations involved -- the United States, the United Kingdom, France, Russia and Germany -- have all agreed to aid in the redesign and modernization of Arak.

Ali Larijani, the speaker of Iran's parliament, also met with Xi. The BBC reported Xi also met with Iran's Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei.

"Expansion of ties with China in all fields is of a great importance to Iran, and will lead to deeper relations between the two countries," Larijani told Tasnim News Agency.

Xi is the first Chinese president to visit Iran in 14 years, on a Middle East tour that also took him to Saudi Arabia and Egypt.

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