by Ming Jinwei
BEIJING, Sept. 20 (Xinhua) -- Iran and China, with different economic advantages, could complement each other in many areas, the Iranian ambassador in China has told Xinhua.
In an interview with Xinhua late Sunday, Ambassador Mahdi Safari said there was great potential for Iran-China cooperation.
"The relations between Iran and China went back to more than 2,000 years. The two nations got to know each other, especially through the Silk Road," he said, referring to the ancient route of commerce and trade, which starts from China and makes its way westward to reach as far as the Mediterranean region.
"The two countries did not have (common) border, but the relations came through trade and commerce," said Safari, a senior Iranian diplomat who had been one of Iran's deputy foreign ministers before he took office as Iranian ambassador to China earlier this year.
Safari said Iran and China have already enjoyed good relations in various areas, adding that he would try to sustain the relationship and boost it to a "fantastic" level.
He said Iran-China relations not only had a long history, but also had a bright prospect. "I believe the two countries' potentials can compliment each other," Safari said while giving energy a priority for cooperation.
Referring to bilateral trade, Safari expressed his confidence that it could reach 40 and 50 billion U.S. dollars per year in the future, compared to the current 30 billion dollars.
He also proposed to expand tourism cooperation between the two countries as part of efforts to increase people-to-people exchanges between the two countries.
Iran is not only rich in historical cultural relics and natural scenery, but also famous for a diversified landscape from desert to jungle, he said.
Li Changchun, a member of the Standing Committee of the Politburo of the Communist Party of China Central Committee, will pay an official visit to Iran later this month, at the invitation of the Iranian government.
Li's visit would pave the way for future visits by top Chinese leaders to Iran in the future, the ambassador said, adding he believed Li's visit could bring Iran and China closer.