China has urged Iran to come to an agreement with leading world powers over its controversial nuclear program so that Tehran can focus on economic development.
Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi said during a trip to Tehran on February 15 that striking a deal in talks with the United States, China, France, Russia, Germany, and Britain would allow Iran to uphold its "legal rights" to use nuclear power and shed international economic sanctions, allowing Iranians to "energetically develop the economy."
Iran and the world powers are to reach a basic framework agreement by the end of March before working on a final deal due by June 30.
Iranian media quoted President Hassan Rohani as saying China could help bring about a quick clinching of a comprehensive nuclear deal.
"Under the current circumstances, a final agreement can be reached in a short time if there is sufficient political will in the other party; and an effective presence by China [in the nuclear talks] can help further shorten that time," Rohani said during the February 15 meeting with Wang.
U.S. and Iranian officials suggest the deadlines for the process are unlikely to change.
U.S. President Barack Obama said last week that extending the March deadline would not be useful if Iran did not agree to a framework assuring world powers it is not pursuing nuclear arms capability through its enrichment of uranium.
Wang said after talks with Iranian counterpart Mohammad Javad Zarif that China hoped the deadlines will not be extended again, having already been extended twice.
"The talks on Iran's nuclear issue have achieved very active and significant progress," Wang said. "To use a metaphor, the talks are just like the finish sprint of a marathon, or approaching the peak of a mountain -- the closer to the end the harder it gets."
Meanwhile, Wang also noted Beijing and Tehran's close economic, trade, and energy ties.
China increased its crude oil imports from Iran in 2014 by nearly 30 percent.
He said Beijing "is willing to encourage even more Chinese companies to invest in Iran and build factories via the joint development of industrial parks in accordance with Iran's development needs and China's ability."