Russia, China tighten ties with Iran

Russia and China moved Thursday to extend their economic influence in Iran, while Europeans are finding it harder to ignore efforts by Washington to isolate Tehran economically. In one of the most concrete moves yet against renewed US efforts to choke off Iran economically, a Russian-led trade bloc signed an interim trade deal with Iran and signalled plans to negotiate a free trade zone. Meanwhile, Iran's oil minister said that Chinese state-owned oil company CNPC was ready to replace Total on a major gas field project in Iran if the French energy giant pulls out.

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