China, Iran signs 1st official think tank co-op agreement

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As Chinese President Xi Jinping started his state visit in Iran on January 23, the China-Iran Think Tank Dialogue on the "Belt and Road Initiative" was being held in Tehran simultaneously.

China, Iran signs 1st official think tank co-op agreement. [Photo / RDCY]

As one of the most important achievements of President Xi's visit, the two countries signed a "Memorandum of Understanding between the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (Iran), Iranian Institute for Political and International Studies (IPIS), the National Development and Reform Commission of China (NDRC) and Renmin University of China."

This is the first international think tank cooperation agreement directly tied to the "Belt and Road" project through the cooperation of official and academic organizations between two major countries. It also marks a big step forward in promotion of the "Belt and Road Initiative," especially in regard to policy coordination and people-to-people contacts.

The agreement was signed by Xu Shaoshi, chairman of the NDRC, Liu Wei, president of Renmin University of China, Mohammed Javad Zarif, Iranian foreign minister, and Mostafa Zahrani, director general of IPIS.

The main contents include promoting exchanges and cooperation in the academic and research fields, exchanging experts or researchers, and promoting joint research on several important aspects of the "Belt and Road Initiative" under the auspices of the RDCY and IPIS.

Mostafa Zahrani, director general of IPIS, said in an interview that the purpose was to enhance friendship and mutual understanding between policy think tanks in the two countries, as well as general populace, especially in promoting specific cooperation and exchanges in various fields that could help improve their mutual interests.

Wang Wen, executive dean of Chongyang Institute for Financial Studies of Renmin University of China (RDCY), said in the interview that the agreement was accomplished with strong support from high officials of the two countries, especially with the help of the leaders of Renmin University and the common efforts of the two research institutes -- RDCY and IPIS.

RDCY was one of the earliest think tanks to conduct the research on the "Belt and Road" and had the ability and responsibility to push forward research cooperation worldwide, Wang added.

He went on: "Think tank exchanges and contacts between China and Iran are still in its initial period without any institutionalized mechanisms on cooperation and communication.

"The signing of the MOU will become a useful exploration for deeper cooperation between various organizations and will help launch a new historical period for our two ancient countries to promote policy coordination, facilities connectivity, unimpeded trade, financial integration and people-to-people bonds."

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