BEIJING (Reuters) - China's domestic security chief has visited Iran to push for greater cooperation in the fight against terror, the Chinese foreign ministry said on Tuesday, as Beijing seeks allies in its efforts to maintain stability in Xinjiang.
Beijing says it faces a threat from militant Islamists in its far western region of Xinjiang, where hundreds have died in unrest in the past two years or so, and has repeatedly pushed for greater regional efforts to tackle the problem.
Meng Jianzhu, who leads China's anti-terror efforts, met with several senior officials while in Tehran, including Vice President Eshaq Jahangiri and Interior Minister Abdolreza Rahmani Fazl on his Nov. 15-17 trip, the ministry said.
"Both sides reached important consensus on expanding and deepening China-Iran bilateral ties, especially when exchanging views on pushing law-enforcement and security cooperation," the ministry said in a statement.
"China and Iran have broad common interests on fighting terrorism, and China is willing to further step up cooperation with Iran and play a proactive role in maintaining both countries security interests and promoting regional peace and stability," it cited Meng as saying.
China wishes to continue with high-level exchanges with Iran and work even more closely with the country on business, trade and security links, Meng added.
China has close economic and diplomatic links with Iran and is the country's top oil buyer. China has also been the most aggressive in raising its crude purchases after an easing of the Western sanctions aimed at ending Tehran's disputed nuclear program. [ID:nL3N0SH2R6]
Last month, China's defense minister said that China wanted to have closer military ties with Iran, reaffirming diplomatic links despite controversy over Iran's nuclear plans. [ID:nL3N0SI2S2]
China, a participant at the nuclear talks with Iran, has consistently urged a negotiated solution and decried efforts to place sanctions which have not been endorsed by the United Nations on Iran.
Reporting by Ben Blanchard; Editing by Michael Perry