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Russia, China Voice Support for Iran After Xi Visit to Kremlin

Russian President Vladimir Putin, right, and Chinese President Xi Jinping enter a hall for the talks in the Kremlin in Moscow, Russia, June 5, 2019.

Russian President Vladimir Putin on Wednesday hosted Chinese leader Xi Jinping for Kremlin talks that reflected increasingly close ties between the two countries that were communist rivals during the Cold War.

At the conclusion of the meetings a joint statement by Russia and China voiced support for Iran and commended Iran’s implementation of the requirements of the Joint Comprehensive plan of Action (JCPOA) or Iran’s nuclear agreement with world powers, reported Russia’s Interfax news agency.

Both countries underlined their commitment to maintain good relations with Iran. "The parties emphasize the need to protect their mutually beneficial commercial and economic cooperation with Iran and firmly oppose the imposition of unilateral sanctions by any states under the pretense of their own national legislation...," the statement said.

The United States withdrew from the agreement in May 2018 and imposed heavy economic sanctions on Iran. Despite the strong support voiced for Tehran, so far both China and Russia appear to abide by the terms of the U.S. sanctions. Iranian shipments of oil to Asian destinations has substantially decreased, as China does not appear to be buying the quantities it did before last November, when oil sanctions started and came fully into play at the beginning of May.

China’s Xi called Putin his "close friend," noting that they have met nearly 30 times over the last six years. The trip marked Xi's eighth visit to Russia since he took the helm in 2012.

"We will strengthen our mutual support on key issues," Xi said, sitting next to Putin in an ornate Kremlin hall.

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