Speaking to reporters on the sidelines of a cabinet meeting on Wednesday, Zarif said the agreement was made during his Tuesday visit to Moscow, where he met with his Russian counterpart, Sergei Lavrov, and talked with President Vladimir Putin on the phone for one hour due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Describing his talks with Russian officials as fruitful, Zarif said he held intensive negotiations with the authorities in Moscow for four and a half hours that resulted in the agreement.
He pointed to a 10-year agreement initially inked between Tehran and Moscow two decades ago, which has been extended twice for five years each time and is due to expire in eight months.
“If no one has any objection, the agreement will be extended automatically for another five years, but we decided it would be better to devise a long-term comprehensive strategic treaty and update it,” he added, noting the agreement will be sent to Iran’s Parliament for approval.
Zarif traveled to Moscow to hold talks with senior Russian officials on issues of bilateral and regional significance and to convey President Hassan Rouhani’s “important” message to Putin.
Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif says he has delivered an “important” message from Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani to his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin, adding that Tehran and Moscow agreed to finalize a long-term comprehensive deal on strategic cooperation.
Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Araqchi also accompanied Zarif in his third visit to Russia in the past six months.
US concerned about emergence of new powers like Iran
Elsewhere in his remarks, the top Iranian diplomat commented on a recent article by US Special Representative for Iran Brian Hook, in which the American official expressed skepticism at a recent strategic partnership announced by Iran and China.
In a joint opinion article published in the Wall Street Journal on Monday, Hook and the US Undersecretary of State for Economic Growth, Energy, and the Environment Keith J. Krach took aim at a 25-year strategic partnership recently announced between China and Iran.
They noted in the article other parts of the partnership between Iran and China that they claimed could cause their alliance more harm than good and praised companies and countries that have sought to cut business ties with Iran and China.
In response to the article, Zarif described Hook as the “architect of the maximum pressure” campaign against Iran.
He has definitely never been benevolent towards the Iranian people or he would not have imposed economic terrorism against them under conditions that the people are grappling with the novel coronavirus pandemic, the minister said.
“The 25-year cooperation agreement between Iran and China is completely transparent. Nothing has been finalized yet, but we are very close to an agreement,” Zarif said.
He dismissed rumors about the agreement and noted that the US is making hue and cry as it is concerned about the emergence of new powers like Iran, China and India.
Due to COVID-19, face-to-face negotiations have not yet taken place, so no document is currently valid, Zarif said, but stressed that so far, all the steps taken have been transparently announced.
“There are no hidden points in the Iran-China cooperation document,” he concluded.
Zarif said earlier the agreement is at the “negotiation” stage, noting that the Foreign Ministry has obtained the required permission from the government to engage in the relevant talks.
Zarif dismisses rumors that a 25-year agreement between Iran and China entails cession of some parts of the Iranian territory to Chinese contractors.
Speaking to ICANA News Agency, the Iranian Parliament’s news outlet, last Thursday, he dismissed rumors and anti-Iran reports that the 25-year agreement with Beijing entails cession of some parts of the Iranian territory to Chinese contractors.
“These allegations are not true. There is not even a particle of truth to these allegations, which have been put forth,” he added.
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