Chinese President Xi Jinping (R) meets with Iranian President Hassan Rouhani in Jakarta, capital of Indonesia, April 23, 2015. (Photo/Xinhua)
Beijing aims to play constructive role in the negotiations, president tells Rouhani
President Xi Jinping said on Thursday that China will push for a "fair and balanced" agreement over the Iranian nuclear issue and is ready to expand cooperation with Teheran. [Special coverage]
A June deadline is fast approaching for a possible landmark deal over the Iranian nuclear situation.
China will continue to maintain contact with all the parties concerned and play a constructive role in the negotiations, Xi told his Iranian counterpart, Hassan Rouhani, on the sidelines of the Asian-African summit in Jakarta, the Indonesian capital.
Rouhani said Iran values the progress made in the nuclear talks and hopes that all parties will fully observe the recently agreed consensus to ensure that a comprehensive deal is signed.
The progress, which was also welcomed by Xi, refers to a framework deal reached by Iran and six major powers－China, France, Russia, Britain, the United States and Germany－on April 2, under which Iran will accept strict controls over its nuclear program in exchange for sanctions relief.
The Jakarta meeting coincided with new talks between Iran and the six nations in Vienna, three weeks after the main outlines were agreed upon, in the latest effort to finalize a deal by June 30.
Hua Liming, a former Chinese ambassador to Iran, said the talks before the deadline will be difficult because it is not easy for Iran or the US to compromise more on the nuclear issue and sanctions relief.
China, which maintains good relations with both countries, is well placed to continue to play a constructive role in the process, Hua said.
A full agreement, if it can be finalized and implemented, will end the decade long dispute and pave the way for a thaw in ties between the US and Iran.
The sanctions and recent oil price slump have hit Iran's economy, with the International Monetary Fund this month forecasting 0.6 percent GDP growth for Iran this year.
Xi called for greater cooperation between China and Iran, with the "Belt and Road" initiatives as the hub for this, as well as enhanced interconnectivity and industrial cooperation.
The Silk Road Economic Belt and the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road, proposed by China, aim to promote orderly and free flow of labor, money and services, highly efficient allocation of resources and deep integration of markets by enhancing connectivity of Asia, Europe and Africa and their seas.
Xi said China is ready to launch long-term and stable energy projects with Iran and expand cooperation in areas including high-speed railways, roads, textiles, telecommunications, electricity and engineering machinery.
According to Reuters, Iran, the world's fifth-largest oil producer, hopes to nearly double its exports in two months from just over 1 million barrels a day once sanctions are lifted, although analysts say it will take longer.
Rouhani said Iran hopes to expand cooperation with China in infrastructure sectors such as energy, science and technology, railways and ports.
Hua said economic ties between China and Iran, which have been overshadowed by Western sanctions, look set to improve.
On Thursday, Xi also met with Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen and Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe in Jakarta before arriving in Bandung to attend activities on Friday marking the 60th anniversary of the Bandung Conference.