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Saturday, 20 April, 2002, 13:01 GMT 14:01 UK
China and Iran move closer
President Khatami greets President Jiang
Mr Jiang hailed relations forged 2,000 years ago
The leaders of China and Iran have pledged greater co-operation during an historic meeting in Tehran.

President Jiang Zemin is the first Chinese leader to visit Iran since the Islamic revolution in 1979.

He was given a red-carpet welcome by his Iranian counterpart Mohammad Khatami at the Sa'adabad Palace in the north of the capital.

President Jiang Zemin at Persepolis
President Jiang visited the 2,500-year-old Persepolis site before going to Tehran
Their talks concentrated on improving Sino-Iranian relations at a time when both countries are concerned about growing US influence around the world and the reconstruction of Afghanistan which shares borders with Iran and China.

The two leaders also witnessed the signing of six co-operation agreements covering oil, gas, trade, transportation, information technology and educational exchanges, the Iranian state news agency said.

Mr Jiang was quoted by the English-language Tehran Times as saying: "Our forefathers began friendly exchanges through the world-famous Silk Road more than 2,000 years ago."

'Much in common'

That theme was continued by Beijing's ambassador to Iran, Sun Bigan, who said Iran and China were seeking to "revive their golden Silk Road ties".

He told Iranian television that the two countries had much in common.

"China supports a multi-polar world, is critical of Israeli killings and believes peace in the Middle East will not be achieved without materialisation of the rights of Palestinians including withdrawal of Israeli troops from occupied territories," he said.

Mr Jiang's visit is being seen by some in Iran as a turning point in relations.

Trade between the two countries has doubled over the past three years to $3.3bn, government officials said.

Mr Jiang is heading a delegation of 180 government and business officials on the last leg of a trip that has taken him to Libya, Nigeria, Germany and Tunisia.

See also:

09 Apr 02 | Asia-Pacific
China's Jiang on sensitive mission
11 Mar 02 | Asia-Pacific
China attacks US military role
27 Oct 01 | Asia-Pacific
China's rising star takes world stage
24 Sep 01 | Asia-Pacific
China's elite tackles leadership question
25 Jun 00 | Asia-Pacific
Iran forges links with China's Muslims
08 Mar 02 | Country profiles
Country profile: China
08 Feb 02 | Country profiles
Country profile: Iran
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