Protests continue in Iran for fifth day as United States sanctions loom

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Chinese oil buyers had already slowed their purchases of US oil to avoid a likely import tariff threatened by Beijing amid the trade dispute between the world's two largest economies.

With tensions high ahead of the return of United States sanctions on Tuesday, the government of President Hassan Rouhani also faces opposition from conservatives and religious leaders, who have long disliked his outreach to the West and accuse him of governing only for the rich.

Iran's Revolutionary Guards confirmed on Sunday it had held war games in the Gulf over the past several days, saying they were aimed at "confronting possible threats" by enemies, the state news agency IRNA reported.

"China always holds the view that JCPOA is a multilateral deal which is verified and approved by the United Nations Security Council and accords the common interests of all parties and the global community, which must be respected and safeguarded so as to maintain the authority of the United Nations, the effectiveness of multilateral deals and the credibility of the worldwide rules", he was quoted by the official Xinhua News Agency as saying.

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The Iranian rial has dropped to a record low amid growing concerns about renewed USA sanctions, which kick in on Monday.

On Sunday, Iran received five more ATR turboprop airplanes only a day before the return of United States sanctions that have already torpedoed the country's plane purchases with other major providers.

Also last month, China, which is Iran's biggest customer, said it did not accept unilateral sanctions against Iran.

The deal was thrown into doubt by the US decision to withdraw from a 2015 nuclear deal between Tehran and major powers and reimpose sanctions, part of which are due to resume from Tuesday.

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The EU mission said this is a preliminary statement and more is expected on how the election results are handled and announced. The ruling ZANU-PF party won a majority of seats in Parliament, the electoral commission said.

"The unilateral sanctions should be abandoned because they are counterproductive", Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying told reporters.

Among the top importers of Iranian oil are China, India, Turkey and South Korea. It accounted for 35 percent the Iranian exports last month, according to ship-tracking data compiled by Bloomberg.

The officials who spoke to Reuters said the campaign, consisting of speeches and online material paints Iranian leaders in a harsh light, at times using information that is exaggerated or contradicts other official pronouncements, including comments by previous administrations.

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