EghtesadOnline: Chairman of the General Staff of Armed Forces Mohammad Baqeri arrived in Beijing on Wednesday at the head of a military delegation to discuss ways of improving Iran-China defense cooperation.
Speaking to reporters upon arrival, Baqeri described China as an important country, saying Iran's military and defense cooperation with Beijing is developing along with their political and economic relations, IRNA reported.
"Iran-China relations have been improving to a strategic level since 2016 and a comprehensive plan for the development of cooperation has been devised and exchanged between the two countries," he said, referring to Chinese President Xi Jinping's visit to Tehran in 2016 in which the two sides reviewed a 25-year roadmap for strategic relations.
He added that under the present circumstances, the visit was essential for exchanging views with his Chinese counterpart, Li Zuocheng, about strategic and technical military issues, Financial Tribune reported.
Tensions escalated in the Persian Gulf following a number of attacks on international vessels in recent months.
The United States, which is already at odds with Tehran over the 2015 nuclear deal, blamed the incidents on Iran, calling on partners and allies to set up an international maritime security mission to purportedly protect free shipping in the strategic waters.
So far, Britain, Australia and Bahrain have joint the coalition. China has announced it would consider having its navy escort its own commercial vessels in case of a very unsafe situation, but reiterated its position that all disputes should be settled by peaceful means and political discussions rather than military action.
Joint Military Commission
The Iranian major general said he would also meet other military officials during his three-day stay to discuss possible future developments in east and southwest Asia as well as beyond.
"We will talk with Chinese authorities about their plan for South China Sea, given that it has been threatened by the United States," he said.
China is engaged in territorial disputes in the sea with its neighboring countries. The US has also stepped up its military activity and naval presence in the region in recent years, claiming that it intends to protect the freedom of navigation in South China Sea.
Baqeri is also scheduled to visit a Chinese naval base in Shanghai. He said a joint military commission is also expected to be established during this trip.
"In the technical and industrial commissions, Iranian and Chinese defense industries will be reviewed and the military commission will discuss issues such as training, maneuvers and other military operations," he said.
A delegation from China's armed forces will travel to Iran in the near future, according to the top general, to pursue the commissions’ agenda.