Iran, Turkey Close to Finalizing Natural Gas Deal

A02896659.jpgTEHRAN (FNA)- Turkey’s energy minister said the multi-billion dollar gas deals with Iran are nearing completion and are expected to be signed by the year-end.

“Our talks are about to reach a conclusion. At this point our talks had been largely shaped. So our colleagues have been doing the final retouches on the deal,” Hilmi Guler told HotNewsTurkey on Friday on the sidelines of the World Economic Forum on Central Asia and Europe summit in Istanbul.

Iran and Turkey had earlier failed to conclude expected energy accords during the visit of Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to Turkey in August.

Under the deal, Turkey’s state-owned petroleum company, TPAO, will explore in Iran’s South Pars field and gas will be piped to Turkey for consumption or re-export to European markets.

Guler said he would pay a visit to Iran to sign the gas deals and this visit would be made before the end of the year.

The United States, which is seeking to isolate Tehran over its progress in civilian nuclear technology, opposes the plan. Washington and its Western allies accuse Iran of trying to develop nuclear weapons under the cover of a civilian nuclear program, while they have never presented any corroborative evidence to substantiate their allegations.

Iran denies the charges and insists that its nuclear program is for peaceful purposes only.

Despite the rules enshrined in the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) entitling every member state, including Iran, to the right of uranium enrichment, Tehran is now under three rounds of UN Security Council sanctions for turning down West’s illegitimate calls to give up its right of uranium enrichment.

Tehran has dismissed West’s demands as politically tainted and illogical, stressing that sanctions and pressures merely consolidate Iranians’ national resolve to continue the path.

In an apparent reference to Washington’s Middle East policy, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said on Thursday that Isolating Iran and Syria is a misguided strategy.

“Dialogue between countries in the region is better than pressure from outside,” he said Thursday, delivering an opening speech at the World Economic Forum on Europe and Central Asia.

Nations in the region could likely find solutions to Middle East conflict and tensions in Iraq by working together and without external pressure, Erdogan said.

In August, Turkish President Abdullah Gul said that Ankara would not be influenced by others in its relations with neighbors. Gul described the expansion of regional ties as natural, saying that “for Turkey what other countries think is of no importance.”

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