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Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 24 September 2018

China to host Iran's Rouhani amid nuclear deal upheaval

China's President Xi Jinping will talk with the Iranian president on the sidelines of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation

Chinese State Councillor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi (R) meets Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif (L) at Diaoyutai state guesthouse in Beijing, China, on May 13, 2018. Thomas Peter / EPA
Chinese State Councillor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi (R) meets Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif (L) at Diaoyutai state guesthouse in Beijing, China, on May 13, 2018. Thomas Peter / EPA

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani will attend a summit with leaders of China and Russia next month, officials in Beijing said on Monday, amid efforts to salvage the nuclear deal thrown into upheaval by Donald Trump.

China, Russia and European powers, all of which signed the 2015 Iran nuclear accord, are scrambling to save the pact following the US president's decision to quit the agreement and reinstate sanctions.

China's President Xi Jinping will talk with Mr Rouhani on the sidelines of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) meeting from June 9-10 in Qingdao, said Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi.

Russian President Vladimir Putin will also attend the summit, he said.

Iran is currently an observer member of the SCO, although it has long sought full membership.

The regional bloc focusing on security and trade also includes four former Soviet central Asian republics and two new members – Pakistan and India.

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Mr Wang did not include the nuclear deal in a readout of the summit's formal agenda.

But Beijing, which is already Iran's top trade partner and one of its biggest buyers of crude, has signalled that it intends to keep working with the Iranian regime despite the US move.

Chinese businesses are expected to step up activities in Iran to fill the void left by the exit of US companies and the possible withdrawal of European rivals amid punitive measures enforced by the US.

India on Monday also said the US withdrawal from the nuclear deal would not affect its dealings with Iran.

"India follows only UN sanctions, and not unilateral sanctions by any country," Foreign Minister Sushma Swaraj said in response to a question on India's reaction to the US decision.

She was speaking ahead of a meeting with Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif, who arrived in New Delhi to build support against the US rejection of the nuclear accord.

India and Iran have long-standing political and economic ties, with Iran one of India's top oil suppliers.

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