China to host Iranian president amid nuclear deal doubt

Reuters, BEIJING

Tue, May 29, 2018 - Page 1

China is to host Iranian President Hassan Rouhani next month at a regional summit aimed at avoiding disruption of joint projects, the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs said yesterday, as major powers scramble to save Iran’s nuclear deal after the US pulled out.

Rouhani is to pay a working visit to China and attend the summit of the China and Russia-led security bloc the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, the ministry said.

It did not give exact dates for his visit, but the summit is scheduled to be held on the second weekend of next month in the northern Chinese city of Qingdao.

Iran is currently an observer member of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, although it has long sought full membership.

“Our hope is that China and Iran will have close consultation on the basis of observing the deal and push forward development of bilateral cooperation,” Chinese Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Zhang Hanhui (張漢暉) told a media briefing.

“We should together look into how to avoid major disruption of joint projects between the two sides,” he added.

Russia has previously argued that with Western sanctions against Tehran lifted, it could finally become a member of the bloc that also includes four ex-Soviet Central Asian republics, Pakistan and India.

The 2015 agreement between Iran and world powers lifted international sanctions on Tehran. In return, Iran agreed to restrictions on its nuclear activities, increasing the time that it would need to produce an atom bomb if it chose to do so.

Since US President Donald Trump withdrew the US from the agreement this month, calling the agreement deeply flawed, European states have been scrambling to ensure that Iran gets enough economic benefits to persuade it to stay in the deal.

China has also strongly supported the deal and is one of its signatories.

Russian President Vladimir Putin, as well as the leaders of Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan, were also invited to hold official bilateral meetings with Chinese President Xi Jinping (習近平) during the summit, the foreign ministry said.

The summit, which runs from June 9 to June 10, is to attempt to create new agreements on security issues such as counterterrorism and drug smuggling among the seven member bloc.