President Jiang Zemin kicked off the last leg of his 15-day five-nation visit with his arrival in Shiraz on Thursday.
In his written statement released upon arrival, Jiang said Sino-Iranian friendship has a long history and the two nations' ancestors started contacts more than 2,000 years ago via the world famous Silk Road.
He stated that since its Islamic revolution, Iran has been seeking to develop friendly relations in various fields with other countries around the world, and added that China believes that bilateral cooperation will make further progress.
Jiang expressed his sincere hope that his current tour could help push forward friendly relations between the two countries.
This visit to Iran is in return for Iranian President Seyyed Mohammad Khatami's visit to China in 2000.
During that visit, the top leaders of the two countries agreed that China and Iran should further their relations in the new century for the sake of peace and development, and they also reached agreement on friendly cooperation in various fields.
Iran has become an important trade partner of China in the Middle East and Gulf region.
Bilateral trade volume surpassed US$2.5 billion in 2000, twice as much as in the previous year.
This time, both leaders are expected to exchange views on how to promote more in-depth cooperation in an all-round manner in political, economic, trade, cultural and other fields. International issues, such as the Middle East conflict, are also likely to be touched upon.
Jiang, who concluded his state visit to Tunisia, is scheduled to have talks with Khatami tomorrow in Teheran, capital of Iran after the stopover in Shiraz.
In another development, President Jiang on Wednesday congratulated Xanana Gusmao on his victory in the first presidential election in East Timor.
Jiang said that on behalf of the Chinese government and people and personally, he extended sincere congratulations and best wishes to Gusmao on his victory.
(China Daily April 19, 2002)