Iran's state TV says the first Chinese commercial train has arrived in Tehran to revive the Silk Road — an ancient network of trade routes running through Asia.

Monday's report quotes Mohsen Pourseyed Aghaie, Iran's deputy transport minister, as saying a 12-container train arrived in Tehran after a 14-day journey from eastern China.

Aghaie says the railway saves transit time comparing to the sea route from Shanghai to Iranian ports. He says Iran plans to extend the route to Europe.

Iran's President Hassan Rouhani has said his country will continue its close ties with the East despite deals his country has with western nations like France and Italy.

China is Iran's biggest trade partner and continued purchasing oil from Iran after nuclear-related sanctions were tightened in 2012, despite U.S. pressure.