Khamenei celebrates capture of U.S. sailors as ‘God’s deed’, welcomes closer ties with China

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Iran seeks closer ties to China as it “never trusted the West,” Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said on Jan. 23.

During Chinese President Xi Jinping’s visit to Teheran on Jan. 23, Iran’s supreme leader said the United States was “not honest” in the fight against terrorism in the Middle East.

Ayatollah Ali Khamenei shows him meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping in Tehran on January 23, 2016. (AFP
Chinese President Xi Jinping meets with Ayatollah Ali Khamenei in Teheran on Jan. 23. /AFP

“Iranians never trusted the West… That’s why Teheran seeks cooperation with more independent countries (like China),” Khamenei said.

The Chinese president is the second leader of a UN Security Council member to visit Teheran since the nuclear deal was completed. Russian President Vladimir Putin visited in November.

“The China-Iran friendship … has stood the test of the vicissitudes of the international landscape,” Xi was quoted as saying by China’s Xinhua news agency.

Xi pledged to increase trade with Iran to $600 billion in the next decade.

“Iran and China have agreed on forming strategic relations (as) reflected in a 25-year comprehensive document,” Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said at a news conference with Xi that was broadcast live on state television.

During Xi’s visit, Iran and China signed 17 accords, including on cooperation in nuclear energy and a revival of the ancient Silk Road trade route.

“China is still heavily dependent on Iran for its energy imports and Russia needs Iran in terms of its new security architecture vision for the Middle East,” said Ellie Geranmayeh, policy fellow at the European Council on Foreign Relations. “Iran plays quite an integral role for both China and Russia’s interests within the region, much more than it does for the Europeans.”

Meanwhile, Khamenei posted photos on his Twitter account on Jan. 24 gloating over Iran’s recent capture of 10 U.S. sailors.

In praising the actions of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC), the supreme leader said “what you did was very great, interesting and timely and it was in fact God’s deed that took Americans to our waters so that through your timely job they raised their hands over their heads and were arrested.”