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In rebuke of US, China backs Iran nuclear deal, calls for Mideast security forum

After meeting with Iran’s Zarif, Beijing says support for 2015 agreement would be condition for entry to proposed new regional platform

China's Foreign Minister Wang Yi talks to Iran's Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif during a meeting at the Diaoyutai state guest house in Beijing, Dec. 31, 2019. (Noel Celis/Pool Photo via AP)
China's Foreign Minister Wang Yi talks to Iran's Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif during a meeting at the Diaoyutai state guest house in Beijing, Dec. 31, 2019. (Noel Celis/Pool Photo via AP)

BEIJING — China’s foreign minister Wang Yi has called for a new forum to defuse tensions in the Middle East after a meeting with his Iranian counterpart where he reiterated Beijing’s support for Tehran.

Wang and Mohammad Javad Zarif also reaffirmed their commitment to Iran’s 2015 nuclear deal with world powers, according to the Chinese foreign ministry, an implicit rebuke of the United States for abandoning the accord during their Saturday meeting in China’s southwestern Tengchong city.

Iran has been locked in an acrimonious relationship with Saudi Arabia, the other major Middle Eastern power, over the war in Yemen, Iranian influence in Iraq and Saudi support for Washington’s sanctions on Tehran.

“China proposes to build a regional multilateral dialogue platform with equal participation of all stakeholders,” said the Chinese foreign ministry statement.

Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif (left) with China’s Foreign Minister Wang Yi at the Diaoyutai state guest house in Beijing, December 31, 2019. (Noel Celis/Pool Photo via AP)

The forum would “enhance mutual understanding through dialogue and explore political and diplomatic solutions to security issues in the Middle East,” the statement added.

Wang added that support for the Iranian nuclear deal, negotiated by the Obama administration but ultimately abandoned by US President Donald Trump, would be a precondition of entry to the forum.

Zarif said on Twitter his “fruitful talks” with Wang amounted to a rejection of “US unilateralism” and had also focused on strategic ties and collaboration on the development of a coronavirus vaccine.

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