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Xi arrives in Iran for state visit

(Xinhua) Updated: 2016-01-23 02:41

Xi arrives in Iran for state visit

Chinese President Xi Jinping (front, L) is welcomed by Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif (front, R) in Tehran, Iran, Jan 22, 2016. [Photo by Rao Aimin/Xinhua] 

TEHRAN -- Chinese President Xi Jinping arrived Friday night for a state visit to Iran aimed at further boosting the traditional friendship and economic engagement between the two countries.

Xi's visit comes days after West-led sanctions on Iran were lifted following an announcement by the International Atomic Energy Agency confirming that Tehran had scaled back its nuclear program. China played a constructive role in prior negotiations.

It is the first state visit in 14 years by a Chinese head of state to Iran, and also Xi's first trip to the ancient country, whose friendship with China dates back to 2,000 years ago thanks to the Silk Road.

The Chinese president will meet his Iranian counterpart, Hassan Rouhani, on Saturday for discussions on aligning their national development strategies and boosting cooperation on both political and economic fronts.

During Xi's visit, the two countries are expected to lift their ties to a comprehensive strategic partnership.

Xi and Rouhani have met each other on multiple occasions over recent years. Rouhani paid a state visit to China in May 2014.

Xi is also scheduled to meet Iranian Parliament Speaker Ali Larijani and Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei during his stay in Tehran.

"China and Iran are faced with important opportunities in developing their relations," Chinese Vice Foreign Minister Zhang Ming told reporters earlier this week. "This visit will be a milestone that will usher in a new era of bilateral ties featuring comprehensive, long-term and stable development."

The two countries established diplomatic ties in 1971, and their relationship has since enjoyed sound and steady development.

Two-way trade jumped from tens of millions of dollars in 1970s to $51.8 billion in 2014, and China has been Iran's biggest trading partner for six consecutive years.

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