Singapore — China and Iran have agreed to strengthen strategic cooperation during Iranian President Hassan Rouhani's visit to China, possibly paving the way for steady crude flows between the two countries.
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The meeting with China's president Xi Jinping took place on Sunday on the sidelines of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization summit in the eastern coastal city of Qingdao, and comes at a time when Iran faces reimposition of sanctions by the US, which could impact its crude oil exports.
China is the largest buyer of Iranian crude and did not reduce crude imports from Iran even at the height of the previous sanctions against Tehran in 2012.
In the first quarter of 2018, China's imports of Iranian crude rose 17.3% year on year to 658,000 b/d, making Iran its sixth-biggest supplier.
Xi and Rouhani agreed on Sunday to enhance bilateral pragmatic cooperation and pursue comprehensive strategic partnership, according to China's state-owned Xinhua news agency.
Xi also called on the two countries to deepen political relations to enhance strategic mutual trust, increase exchanges at all levels, and continue to support each other on issues of major concern involving their respective core interests, according to Xinhua news agency.
The latest agreement is expected to further advance bilateral comprehensive strategic partnership established during Xi's state visit to Iran in 2016.
Xinhua quoted Xi as saying that the Iran nuclear deal should continue to be implemented earnestly as it acts to stabilize the peace and stability in the Middle East as well as for the international non-proliferation regime.
International buyers of Iranian oil have until November 4 to wind down contracts before the US re-imposes sanctions on the oil, energy, shipping and insurance sectors, a US Treasury Department fact sheet showed.