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March 27, 2021

China and Iran have signed a comprehensive agreement to chart the course of their economic, political and trade relations over the next 25 years, Iranian state television reported, in a challenge to the Biden administration.

The “comprehensive strategic partnership” agreement, signed on Saturday in Tehran by Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif and his Chinese counterpart, Wang Yi, has been underway since 2016 when President Xi Jinping became the first Chinese leader to visit the Iranian capital in over a decade.

“The document can elevate bilateral relations to a new strategic level,” Foreign Ministry spokesman Saeed Khatibzadeh said in a television interview. The agreement aims to strengthen collaboration with the private sector and the role of the Islamic Republic in Xi’s flagship infrastructure and investment program, the Belt and Road Initiative, he said.

A draft copy of the outline of the deal that surfaced in the media last year showed long-term plans to supply Iranian crude to China as well as investments in oil, gas, petrochemical, and oil infrastructure. renewable and nuclear.

The alliance between Beijing and Tehran is a challenge for the administration of US President Joe Biden as it tries to rallying allies against China, which Secretary of State Antony Blinken called “the world’s greatest geopolitical test.”

The Chinese pact comes as efforts to revive Iran’s nuclear deal with world powers are stalled. The Biden administration has indicated it is ready to re-engage with Iran after then-President Donald Trump abandoned the deal nearly three years ago and reimposed economic sanctions, but the two parties have not even agreed to meet yet.

Iran’s closer integration with China could help bolster its economy against the impact of U.S. sanctions while sending a clear signal to the Biden administration of Tehran’s intentions. Wang Yi, who arrived in Tehran on Friday, also met with President Hassan Rouhani to discuss the nuclear deal.

In a televised speech, Rouhani reiterated his views on the prospect of easing restrictions before the end of his second and final term as president in early August.

“We are ready for the lifting of sanctions,” he said on Saturday. “If the obstacles are removed, all or at least some sanctions can be lifted.”