China’s Xi says Iran President’s death ‘great loss’

Raeisi was declared dead on Monday after rescue teams found his crashed helicopter in a fog-shrouded western mountain region.

Xi sent “sincere condolences” to the Iran’s first vice president, foreign ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin said at a press briefing.

“(Raeisi’s) tragic death is a great loss to the Iranian people, and the Chinese people have lost a good friend,” Wang quoted Xi as saying.

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

According to Wang, Xi said that “President Raeisi has made important contributions to maintaining Iran’s security and stability, promoting national development and prosperity, and also made active efforts to consolidate and develop the China-Iran comprehensive strategic partnership”.

China would offer “all necessary support and assistance” and “continue to support the Iranian government and people in safeguarding their independence, stability and development”, he said.

Wang said China had also expressed “deep sorrow” at the death of Iran’s Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian, who was also on the helicopter.

The Iranian flag was at half-mast outside its embassy in Beijing, an AFP reporter saw.

Iranian President Ebrahim Raeisi and Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian have martyred in a helicopter crash in the northwestern province of East Azarbaijan.

The helicopter carrying President Raeisi and his accompanying delegation crashed on Sunday in the Dizmar forest, nestled between the cities of Varzaqan and Jolfa in East Azarbaijan Province.

It was transporting Raeisi, Amir-Abdollahian, East Azarbaijan Governor Malek Rahmati, Friday Prayers leader of the city of Tabriz Seyyed Mohammad Ali Al-e Hashem , and a member of the president’s bodyguard team Mahdi Mousavi. The helicopter’s pilot, co-pilot and crew were also among others on board the chopper.

President Raeisi and his accompanying delegation were returning from a ceremony to inaugurate a dam on the Aras River with Azerbaijan’s President Ilham Aliyev.

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