Iran top diplomat visits China to save nuclear deal

Iran top diplomat visits China to save nuclear deal
The trip is part of FM Javad Zarif's multi-country diplomatic tour to save the Iran nuclear deal following US President Donald Trump's withdrawal.
2 min read
China's state councillor greets Iran's FM Javad Zarif arriving in Beijing [Getty]
Iran's foreign minister arrived in China on Sunday as part of the first leg of a diplomatic tour to save the landmark 2015 nuclear deal. 

The trip follows US President Donald Trump's Tuesday announcement that Washington would pull out of the 2015 accord, which drew criticism from China, Russia and European powers. 

"China is highly concerned with the direction of the Iranian nuclear issue and is willing to maintain communication with all relevant parties, including Iran," said Geng Shuang, spokesman for China's Ministry of Foreign Affairs. 

Before arriving in Beijing, Zarif published a government statement on his Twitter page, slamming the "extremist administration" of US President Donald Trump for abandoning "an accord recognised as a victory of diplomacy by the international community". 

It reiterated that Iran was preparing to resume "industrial-scale" uranium enrichment "without any restrictions" unless Europe provided solid guarantees that it could maintain trade ties despite renewed US sanctions. 

In an apparent response to Zarif's tweet, Trump hit back Saturday evening, saying that the accord had failed to contain Iran's militarism.

China was closely involved in negotiating the agreement as one of the five permanent members of the UN Security Council and has long been a close Iranian economic partner, buying about a third of Iran's oil shipments.

Beijing has expressed regret over Trump's decision to withdraw from the 2015 agreement and says it remains committed to the pact. On Wednesday, Shuang said China would "carry on the normal and transparent pragmatic cooperation with Iran".

Zarif's tour kicked off just two days after unprecedented Israeli strikes in Syria killed at least 11 Iranian fighters, triggering fears of a broader conflict between the two arch-enemies.

Iran's state news agency IRNA confirmed Zarif departed in the early hours of Sunday morning. He will visit Moscow and Brussels following Beijing, a spokesman said, holding meetings with all of the remaining parties to the 2015 agreement.

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