Iran and China opened up a "new era" in relations Saturday, the two countries said as they announced a series of deals that include construction of two new nuclear power plants in Iran and long-term agreements for delivering Iranian oil to China.
The agreement is yet another sign of thawing relationships with Iran after last weekend's certification that it had met the conditions of a 2015 deal it reached with a group of world powers - including China - that it would refrain from trying to build nuclear weapons.
"This summit has particular historical importance in light of the implementation of the nuclear deal and is the beginning of a new bilateral era," said Iranian President Hassan Rowhani after the meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping.
The two signed 17 deals in total. Rowhani said he also expects to see tighter political cooperation in the future, especially in the fight against terrorism.
Xi echoed many of Rowhani's comments, saying he was happy with the talks and adding that he also expects to see strong growth in both trade and political cooperation between the two. Such a relationship will serve to bring peace to the region, Xi said through a translator.
Xi is the first Chinese president to visit Iran in 14 years, although it has been a leading trading partner during this time. Trade volumes should surpass the 52 billion dollars in trade the two countries enjoyed in 2014, they said. Rowhani even predicted about 600 billion dollars worth of trade within 10 years.
The Chinese president is also set to meet with Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei during his visit. Xi said he hopes to calm tensions between Iran and Saudi Arabia, which have been inflamed since Saudi Arabia's decision to execute a leading Shiite cleric earlier this month.
Rowhani is prone to praising China as Iran's most important trading partner. However, Iranian companies are not always eager to hear such sentiments, as they hope to direct their attention towards Western countries now that the sanctions imposed before the nuclear deal are easing.
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