Iran's Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif shakes hands with his Chinese counterpart Wang Yi after a joint press conference in Beijing. Photo: AFP/Greg Baker

Officials in Beijing have apparently decided they will not cut imports of Iranian oil, dealing a blow to a US campaign to pressure Iran, following the Trump administration’s move to pull out of the 2015 nuclear deal.

That is according to a report from Bloomberg on Friday, citing officials familiar with the negotiations. The officials, however, added that Beijing has agreed not to increase purchases of Iranian crude. There was some speculation that China may ramp up purchases, undermining US efforts to convince Tehran to come back to the negotiating table.

The current US administration has been harshly critical of the 2015 deal that saw sanctions on Iran lifted in exchange for a halt to the country’s nuclear weapons development program. Others who signed on to the agreement, including US allies France, Germany and the UK, who voiced strong support for salvaging the deal, have been reducing imports from Iran nonetheless.

The US gave a deadline of November 4 to make “significant” progress in reduction of purchases of Iranian crude.

China is largest buyer of Iranian oil, and has in recent months increased purchases, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

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