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Russia, China Denounce U.S. Efforts To Change Iran Deal, World Trade Rules

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov (right) shows the way to Chinese counterpart Wang Yi during a meeting in Moscow on April 5.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov (right) shows the way to Chinese counterpart Wang Yi during a meeting in Moscow on April 5.

The foreign ministers of Russia and China have jointly denounced what they described as efforts by the United States to unilaterally change negotiated treaties ranging from the Iran nuclear deal to the global-warming pact and world trade rules.

Speaking in Moscow after talks with his Chinese counterpart on April 5, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said the administration of U.S. President Donald Trump was trying to go it alone on issues that involve many countries.

He cited as examples the U.S. push to renegotiate the 2015 nuclear deal with Iran, despite the other parties' satisfaction with the agreement, and his demands for change in the global-warming treaty signed by 166 other countries.

"It has nothing to do with diplomacy. It's an attempt to enforce its own interests while completely ignoring the interests of others," Lavrov said.

"Unilateralism is always bad, and particularly so when it becomes the main foreign-policy tool," Lavrov said. "China and Russia have repeatedly shown their readiness to search for reasonable compromises based on taking interests of all interested parties into account."

"We in Russia stand for direct dialogue to solve any outstanding issues," Lavrov said. "We never dodge negotiations. It's our American partners who do."

On the Iran deal, Trump has demanded that the European powers that are also signatories to the agreement -- Britain, France, and Germany -- negotiate a side deal to address what he has called its "disastrous flaws."

Trump in particular has criticized the nuclear deal's failure to curb Iran's ballistic-missile development and the expiration after 10 years of the deal's curbs on Iranian uranium enrichment and several other nuclear activities, which were imposed in exchange for sanctions relief.

Trump is threatening to pull the United States out of the deal unless his demands are met, and U.S. allies in Europe have been negotiating with the administration in an effort to answer Trump's concerns.

Lavrov pointed out that the Iran deal took years to negotiate, and said Russia took the position that any attempt to unilaterally change the deal represents a violation of its terms as well as of a UN resolution carrying out the deal.

Iran has taken a similar position and has opposed any changes in the deal.

Iran's nuclear agency chief, Ali Akbar Salahi, was quoted by the IRNA news agency on April 5 as saying, "We want to stay in the deal, but we can do differently" if Trump pulls out. He promised a "surprise" if Trump decided to withdraw.

Lavrov accused the U.S. administration of also trying to unilaterally alter World Trade Organization rules as well as the 2015 Minsk agreement, which lays out a process for achieving peace in eastern Ukraine.

U.S. officials have expressed frustration that the Minsk accord has failed to bring about any lasting settlement of Kyiv's conflict with Russia-backed separatists, but they have not publicly sought to make changes in the agreement.

Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi joined in Lavrov's criticism of the United States on April 5, but focused his remarks on U.S. plans to impose new tariffs on aluminum and steel imports, which are targeted on both China and Russia, as well as Trump's threats to impose as much as $150 billion in new tariffs on Chinese goods.

"If the U.S. thinks that it can get advantages through protectionism, its calculus is wrong," Wang said, denouncing the higher tariffs as "typical unilateralism and an undisguised attempt at hegemony."

"The international community must jointly oppose such unilateralism and violation of rules," Wang said.

Wang's trip to Russia follows a Moscow visit earlier this week by Chinese Defense Minister Wei Fenghe, who said his visit was intended was a signal to the United States of increasingly close Russia-China military ties.

In a show of military cooperation, Moscow and Beijing have recently conducted joint drills, including exercises in the South China Sea and joint naval maneuvers in the Baltics.

Moscow and Beijing for years have forged what they describe as a "strategic partnership," expressing their shared goal of creating a "multipolar" world with multiple centers of power and their joint opposition to a "unipolar" world dominated by the United States.

Russian President Vladimir Putin has developed warm ties with Chinese President Xi Jinping, and the two leaders regularly exchange visits. Putin is set to go to China in June for a meeting of the security grouping dominated by Moscow and Beijing.

While greeting Wang on April 5, Putin hailed the Chinese legislature's unanimous decision last month to reappoint Xi as president with no limit on the number of terms he can serve. Wang in turn conveyed Xi's congratulations on Putin's reelection last month.

"I would like to express hope that after the Russian presidential election and important political events in the People's Republic of China, we will continue our course aimed at further strengthening bilateral ties," Putin said.

With reporting by AP, AFP, Interfax, and TASS