EHRAN, Sep. 18 (Press Shia Agency) – Iran’s Ali Akbar Velayati and head of China Institute of Middle Eastern Studies met Mon. in Tehran and called for expansion of strategic relations between the two sides.

Ali Akbar Velayati, the Head of Strategic Research Center at Iran’s Expediency Council, held a meeting with the head of China Institute of Middle Eastern Studies in Tehran, during which he highlighted the relations between the two countries as strategic.

“Gradually, the focus of international politics has been leaning towards Asia, and China in the East and Iran in West Asia are both major contributors to continental and international developments,” Velayati said at the meeting.

Responding to the Chinese official’s enquiry about his assessment of the two countries’ relations in the wake of Chinese President’s visit to Tehran, Velayati said “Iran is just as keen as China in developing strategic ties between the two sides. Tehran and Beijing have reached valuable agreements. There exist some obstacles however that need collective efforts to be overcome.”

Velayati underscored the significance of expanding international relations, adding “the Silk Road project is one of the important areas of cooperation between Iran and China which requires further talks and closer interactions.”

The Chinese side, for his part, maintained that some strategic memorandums were signed between Iran and China during President Xi Jinping visit to Tehran in January 2016, during which he vowed to boost bilateral trade to $600 billion within a decade.

He further welcomed expansion of relations and cooperation with Iranian organizations and researchers, adding “research centers in both countries can play a role in deepening relations between the two sides.”

The meeting came as a Chinese state-owned investment firm (CITIC) has recently provided a $10 billion credit line for Iranian banks. The deal, signed on Sep. 14, marks the first major contract signed with China in the era after the nuclear deal, according to ran’s deputy economy minister Mohammad Khazaei.