BEIJING: The Iranian foreign minister’s passionate defense of his country’s interests at the Munich Security Conference has made him “a famous person” in China, his Chinese counterpart told him on Tuesday, as the sides met amid efforts to preserve the 2015 nuclear deal with Tehran.
Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif is leading an Iranian delegation to Beijing that includes parliamentary speaker Ali Larijani and the ministers of finance and petroleum, as well as the CEO of the country’s central bank.
Germany, Britain, France, China, Russia and the European Union have been trying to preserve the 2015 deal meant to keep Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons in exchange for sanctions relief after the unilateral withdrawal of the United States last year.
“Yesterday evening I saw on TV how you defended the rights of Iran loud and clear at the Munich Security Conference,” Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi told Zarif. “I think an audience of hundreds of millions of Chinese also watched what you said and you are a famous person now.”
A perception held by many Chinese that the US seeks to contain their nation’s global rise generates sympathy among the public for Iran and other countries, such as Venezuela, identified by Washington as hostile powers.
Zarif told the Munich conference on Sunday that a barter-type system known as INSTEX set up last month by France, Germany and Britain to allow businesses to skirt direct financial transactions with Iran, and thereby evade possible US sanctions, fell short of commitments to save the nuclear deal.
He addressed the conference a day after US Vice President Mike Pence prodded Germany, France and Britain to follow Washington in withdrawing from the deal and to “stop undermining US sanctions.”