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Zarif Dismisses Criticism Of China Pact As 'Rumors' By Ill-Wishers

China's Foreign Minister Wang Yi (R) shakes hands with Iran's Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif during their meeting at the Diaoyutai State Guest House in Beijing on December 31, 2019

A top lawmaker in Iran has said that foreign minister Javad Zarif defended the Iran-China cooperation pact proposed document and told parliament today that talk about selling an island and cheap oil to China are mere rumors.

The spokesman of parliament’s national security commission, Abolfazl Amuee quoted Zarif as saying that “national interests” have been considered in drafting the document and opposition to it “stems from the prejudice of enemies who are against the expansion of Sino-Iranian relations”.

The lawmaker told state-run ISNA news agency that also quoted Zarif as saying, “Drafting of this document began with the visit of Xi Jinping to Tehran in [January] 2016 and the two countries decided during the visit to create a long-term roadmap.” Zarif also said that the document is still being discussed.

Reports about Iran preparing a document to sign a 25-year strategic cooperation pact with China began circulating in June and immediately were met by criticism of many Iranians both inside the country and abroad. Initially, the government refused to make the draft document public, but it was leaked last week.

Overall, the document appears to be a general wish list from the Iranian side, rather than a compilation of concrete plans with details.

Critics say that a long-term and comprehensive cooperation plan with China would simply cede Iran’s resources and economy to a much powerful country and would make the country fully subservient to China.

China has so far observed the U.S. sanctions reimposed on Iran in 2018 and would be reluctant to expand trade with Tehran as long as the U.S. is opposed to it. China’s trade with Iran has substantially decreased since mid-2019.

The U.S. State Department has already criticized the plan to expand cooperation with China, calling a capitulation by Iran.