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China and Iran agree to boost military ties

China's Foreign Minister Wang Yi (R) talks to Iran's Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif (L) during their meeting at the Diaoyutai State Guest House in Beijing on December 31, 2019. (Photo by Noel CELIS / POOL / AFP) (Photo by NOEL CELIS/POOL/AFP via Getty Images)
Chinese and Iranian flags at the Diaoyutai State Guest House in Beijing on December 31, 2019 [NOEL CELIS/POOL/AFP via Getty Images]

China and Iran have agreed to expand their military cooperation following the visit by Chinese Defence Minister Wei Fenghe to Tehran yesterday, where he held talks with senior Iranian officials, including President Ebrahim Raisi.

The agreement was announced by the chief of staff of Iran's armed forces, Major General Mohammad Bagheri, who told reporters, "In [Wednesday's] meeting with the Chinese minister of defence, we agreed to expand bilateral cooperation in joint military drills, exchange of strategies, training issues and other common fields between the two countries' armed forces so that we can provide better security for the two countries' territories."

Wei said that the purpose of the visit was, "To improve the strategic defence cooperation [between Beijing and Tehran]". He added that improving ties would provide security, "particularly in the current critical and tense situation." According to Raisi, "Confronting unilateralism and creating stability and order is possible through cooperation of independent and like-minded powers."

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The Chinese minister met with his Iranian counterpart, General Mohammad Reza Ashtinai, who criticised the US military presence in the region and elsewhere. "Wherever the US has had a military presence, it has created waves of insecurity, instability, rifts, pessimism, war, destruction and displacement," he said.

China and Iran have enhanced their military ties in recent years, amid tensions with the US. In January, both countries along with Russia held joint naval drills in the Indian Ocean, the third since 2019.

Last year China and Iran signed a 25-year cooperation agreement aimed at strengthening economic and political relations. China is also a signatory to the 2015 nuclear deal, which is currently facing stalled negotiations intended to revive it after the US unilaterally withdrew in 2018.

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