Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei on Saturday said Iran had never trusted the West and backed closer ties with China instead. The two countries agreed to increase trade by more than 10 times to $600 billion (Rs 40.5 lakh crore) over the next ten years. Chinese President Xi Jinping is currently on a visit to the Middle Eastern nation, Reuters reported. Iran and China signed 17 accords on Saturday.

Khamenei said his country wanted to boost ties with “more independent” nations, questioning the United States’ integrity in dealing with terrorism in the region. “Iran is the most reliable country in the region for energy since its energy policies will never be affected by foreigners,” he said.

Economic sanctions were lifted against Iran a week ago, pulling it out of relative isolation after a year, when the UN had come down heavily on the country for its nuclear programme. Khamenei thanked China for its help during the course of the sanctions. Chinese news agencies claimed the country had agreed to build its relationship with Iran in an effort to create new markets for its goods.