China, Russia Plan Meeting to Avoid 'Confrontation' Between Iran, U.S.

Just days after the United States lost a bid to extend a United Nations arms embargo on Iran, China and Russia agreed to a summit aimed at avoiding potential conflict between the U.S. and Tehran.

President Donald Trump said over the weekend he was unlikely to participate in any summit of world leaders looking to avoid a "confrontation" between the U.S. and Iran, but he did vow to use a controversial provision to unilaterally reinstate U.N. sanctions on Tehran. Hoping to head off the potential Middle East conflict between the U.S. and Iran, Russian President Vladimir Putin on Monday proposed a summit of world leaders to discuss the possible sanctions—something Beijing officials said they would welcome.

Russia and China have opposed an extension of the weapons ban that is set to expire in October under a 2015 nuclear deal, which was hashed out between Iran and several nations.

Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian criticized the U.S. and the Trump administration, saying the world's most powerful county is "again [showing] that unilateralism has no popular support, and hegemonistic behavior will not succeed." Zhao added that the U.S. needs to adopt a more rational attitude and get back on the "correct path" toward respecting the Iran nuclear agreement, which was created under the Obama administration.

On Monday, Chinese officials said they would agree to Putin's proposal to meet to discuss the deteriorating situation between the U.S. and Iran.

"As for the Russian proposal for a teleconference summit on the Iran nuclear issue, China expresses its welcome and appreciation," Zhao said in a Reuters report Monday. "We are willing to continue to maintain close communication and coordination with all parties concerned to jointly promote a political settlement of the Iranian nuclear issue."

Last month, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said that the U.S. and Trump administration have "lost [their] mind, morals and credibility."

Trump and U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo appeared to dismiss the other world powers discussing their potential actions against Iran. Trump said at a news conference in Bedminster, New Jersey, over the weekend, "We'll be doing a snapback, You'll be watching it next week." Trump has repeatedly said the U.S. can bring back sanctions against Iran if the country's intelligence says Iran is in violation of the 2015 terms.

"If at any time the United States believes Iran has failed to meet its commitments, no other state can block our ability to snap back those multilateral sanctions," Pompeo tweeted on Sunday, echoing Trump's vow.

Tehran officials also appeared to criticize the Trump administration for pushing to unilaterally re-administer sanctions against them.

"I don't remember the U.S. preparing a resolution for months to strike a blow at the Islamic Republic of Iran, and it garners only one vote," the Iranian president, Hassan Rouhani, said in a televised speech over the weekend. "But the great success was that the U.S. was defeated in this conspiracy with humiliation."

vladimir putin russia china jinping
Russian President Vladimir Putin and Chinese President Xi Jinping with other leaders pose for a group photo at the Second Belt and Road Forum for Economic Cooperation on April 27, 2019 in Beijing. On Monday, August 17, Putin proposed a summit of world leaders to discuss the possible sanctions against Iran—something Beijing officials said they would welcome. MIKHAIL SVETLOV / Contributor/Getty Images