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Lawmaker Says Giving Control Of Iran Islands To China Scrapped After Popular Outcry

Mahmoud Ahmadi Bighash, hardliner member of Iran's parliament. FILE PHOTO

A hardliner member of Iran's parliament, Majles, has said that he believes "transferring full authority of Iranian islands to China" was included in a proposed 25-year comprehensive cooperation agreement with China.

Speaking to the monopolized state-run TV's Channel One, Mahmoud Ahmadi Bighash insisted that opposition by the people and the Majles aborted the move.

Reports concerning the so-called Tehran-Beijing 25-year Comprehensive Cooperation Plan and its prospects have recently triggered a heated debate in and outside Iran.

Although Ahmadi Bighash has stopped short of naming the Iranian islands planned to be controlled by China, the Persian version of the so-called agreement published by local news outlets in the Islamic Republic refer to "Free Zones", some of them currently located in Iranian islands such as Kish and Qeshm on the Persian Gulf.

A former member of the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps for three decades, Ahmadi Bighash, played down his comments later, maintaining that he had been misunderstood.

"I have read the draft and there is no reference to 'giving away' Iranian islands to China," the lawmaker insisted. However, he immediately noted, "The point is granting China 'full authority' [over the Iranian Islands], not giving them away."

Furthermore, in an interview with the IRGC-run Tasnim news agency, Ahmadi Bighash once again denied that he had made such a claim, saying, "I have read the draft of the Iran-China agreement, and in no part of the text there is any discussion about leasing Iranian islands to China."

Reacting to widespread opposition to Tehran-Beijing 25-year contract, the Islamic Republic's Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif denied allegations on Thursday, insisting, "We have not given and will not give away even an inch of Iranian soil. We will not grant China or any other country the exclusive right to use a single meter of Iranian territory."

In recent days, news about the 25-year pact and lack of transparency by officials regarding its content has provoked a strong public reaction and sparked a heated debate about its goals and vision.

Meanwhile, in a statement on Saturday, July 18, the Iran’s foreign ministry called the remarks by Mahmoud Ahmadi Bighash "basically mendacious," adding that "such unfounded allegations" deliver a "severe blow to the national interests of the Islamic Republic of Iran."