Middle East

Tehran eyes role in China’s Belt and Road Initiative

Chinese, Iranian foreign ministers meet in Beijing to discuss relations, regional developments

19.02.2019
Tehran eyes role in China’s Belt and Road Initiative

By Riyaz ul Khaliq

ANKARA

Iran would like to take part in China’s landmark Belt and Road Initiative, Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif said Tuesday.

Zarif made the remarks at a Tuesday meeting with Chinese counterpart Wang Yi in Beijing, where the two men reportedly voiced their willingness to enhance bilateral relations.

According to Xinhua, Zarif expressed Tehran’s desire to take part in China’s massive infrastructure development project.

“The initiative is of special significance to both Iran and China,” Zarif was quoted as saying.

Wang, for his part, said Beijing valued “Iran’s role” in regional affairs and looked forward to a seeing that role expand further.

“The situation in the Middle East and the world is undergoing major changes,” Wang was quoted as saying, “and relations between China and Iran are also facing a new situation.”

The meeting comes only a few days before Mohammad bin Salman, crown prince of Saudi Arabia -- Tehran’s archrival -- is set to visit the Chinese capital.

“Both China and Iran are countries with thousands of years of civilization and tradition,” Wang reportedly told Zarif.

“In the face of the periodic changes consisting of certain individual events,” he added, “the two countries can maintain strategic strength while safeguarding and promoting ties with a long-term perspective.”

Saudi King Salman, the crown prince’s father, visited Beijing in 2017.

Zarif, meanwhile, was quoted as saying that Iran highly valued its partnership with China.

“The Iranian side welcomes China's important role in issues concerning the Middle East region, such as Syria, Iraqi reconstruction and the Afghan peace process,” he said.

Wang reportedly responded by applauding an address delivered by Zarif at last week’s Munich Security Conference in which Tehran’s top diplomat had defended Iranian regional policy.

According to an Iranian Foreign Ministry statement released after Tuesday’s meeting, Zarif and Wang “conferred on the expansion and development of bilateral ties in all fields and important regional and international developments”.

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