Iran is China's second largest trade partner in West Asia: Hu
Chinese President Hu Jintao said on Tuesday that the Islamic Republic of Iran is China's second largest trade partner in West Asia-MNA reports.
Hu made the remarks during a meeting with Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in Astana, Kazakhstan, on the sidelines of the 10th summit of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), which will open in Astana today.
The Chinese president also said, "China defends Iran's peaceful nuclear program and believes that negotiation is the best way to find a solution to (Iran's nuclear) issue."
Elsewhere in his remarks, Hu said that further development of relations between Tehran and Beijing is conducive to improving peace and stability in the region and the world.
The two countries should make every effort to increase bilateral cooperation, the Chinese president stated.
He also emphasized the need to hold regular talks between Iranian and Chinese officials.
Ahmadinejad and Hu also exchanged views on the latest regional and international developments.
Unity benefits entire region
In addition, Ahmadinejad held a separate meeting with Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev.
Ahmadinejad and Nazarbayev emphasized that unity among regional countries will benefit the entire region and will promote peace and security in the region as well.
The Iranian president said that Iran and Kazakhstan share many cultural affinities and that would prepare the ground for further consolidation of bilateral relations.
Nazarbayev stated that Astana is keen to increase relations with Tehran.
Iran 's participation would raise SCO status
Ahmadinejad also held a meeting with Kazakh Prime Minister Karim Massimov on Tuesday, in which Massimov said that Iran's participation in the SCO summit would elevate the status of this organization.
Ahmadinejad is scheduled to deliver a speech at the SCO summit today.
He will also meet with a number of high-ranking officials from the countries participating in the summit.
The Shanghai Cooperation Organization is an intergovernmental security organization which was founded in 2001 in Shanghai by the leaders of China, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan. Iran, India, Mongolia, and Pakistan are the observer states of this organization.