AP: Iran and Turkey signed several cooperation agreements Thursday but failed to complete a deal for building a new natural gas pipeline — a project the United States has opposed.
The Associated Press
By C. ONUR ANT
ISTANBUL, Turkey (AP) — Iran and Turkey signed several cooperation agreements Thursday but failed to complete a deal for building a new natural gas pipeline — a project the United States has opposed.
Washington argues an energy deal by NATO ally Turkey with Iran would send the wrong message while the West threatens Tehran with new economic sanctions over its refusal to halt uranium enrichment. The West believe Iran is trying to develop nuclear weapons, which Tehran denies.
On Thursday, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and Turkish President Abdullah Gul witnessed the public signing of a series of agreements for cooperation in anti-drug efforts, environmental matters, transportation, tourism and culture.
The two nations also issued a joint statement stressing their determination for further cooperation in energy but they couldn't come to agreement on construction of the proposed gas pipeline.
"There are some snags," Turkey's interior minister, Besir Atalay, said without providing any details.
Turkish Energy Minister Hilmi Guler said that "the negotiations will continue" on the pipeline project, which is aimed at ensuring reliable supply of Iranian natural gas to Turkey.
Turkey already receives gas through an existing pipeline from Iran, but its flow often is sporadic during the winter.
Relations between Turkey and Iran improved since Turkey's Islamic-rooted governing party took power in 2002. Previous Turkish governments had accused Iran of trying to export radical Islam to secular Turkey, which hopes to join the European Union.
The United States also opposes plans for Turkish investment in Iran's South Pars gas fields and the possibility of the Islamic Republic selling its gas to European markets via an existing pipeline that carries gas to Europe through Turkey.