20 May 2024, 09:28

China 'deeply concerned' over Iran president's helicopter accident

 BEIJING, May 20, 2024 (BSS/AFP) - China said on Monday it was "deeply
concerned" after Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi's helicopter went missing in
what Tehran's state media described as an accident, and pledged to help the
rescue operation.

Contact was lost with the aircraft carrying Raisi, as well as Foreign
Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian and others, in East Azerbaijan province in
northwest Iran on Sunday, reports said.

Iran's Red Crescent said on Monday the helicopter had been found and the
situation was "not good".

"The Chinese side is deeply concerned about the hard landing of the
helicopter in which President Raisi was travelling, and we wish President
Raisi and the crew on board safe and sound," state broadcaster CCTV quoted
Beijing's foreign ministry as saying.

China was closely monitoring the situation and would "provide all necessary
support and assistance" to the rescue operations, it added.

China is a close partner of Iran, its largest trade partner, and a top buyer
of its sanctioned oil.

Tehran and Beijing have deepened trade ties in recent years, though Beijing's
efforts to pull Iran into its flagship Belt and Road Initiative
infrastructure project have been complicated by sanctions.

Beijing has also long played a critical role in arming Iran, aiding its
efforts to modernise its military hardware and tactics.

It has also facilitated the "transfer of technology and machinery" for Iran's
illicit nuclear program, according to the RAND Corporation.

The United States has repeatedly made public appeals for China to use its
influence over Tehran to manage tensions in the region, which have been
heightened by the Israel-Hamas conflict.

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