ANKARA: Iranian President Ahmadinejad: Outsiders Can’T Hurt Ties Wit


Journal of Turkish Weekly
Aug 21 2007

Iran is keen to further improve its relations with neighboring Turkey
and no outsider can harm the flourishing ties, Iranian President
Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said yesterday after a meeting with visiting
Turkish Energy Minister Hilmi Guler.

Ahmadinejad told Guler at the meeting that he was happy to see that
Turkey is developing in all fields and that Iran and Turkey would
deepen cooperation in energy, according to a statement from the press
office of the Iranian Presidency.

Ahmadinejad’s remarks apparently targeted the United States, which
raised objections when Turkey and Iran signed a preliminary deal last
month to use Iran as a transit route for Turkmen gas and agreed to
develop Iran’s South Pars gas field to facilitate the transport of
gas on to Europe.

Contrary to expectations, the two countries did not sign the agreement
during Guler’s two-day visit to Tehran, but Guler said officials of
the two countries have made progress in detailing the primary deal
signed in Ankara.

"We made progress on this issue during our meetings. We had some
talks concerning service agreements on [gas] wells. Our meetings
will continue," Guler told the Anatolia news agency before departing
for Turkey.

Turkey and Iran agreed on increasing capacities of existing
transmission lines between the two countries and discussed building
three natural gas fired-plants in Turkey and Iran during the latest
talks, he said.

"Our meetings were extremely productive. We signed a memorandum of
understanding [MoU] on electricity. Our talks on other issues are
also continuing," Guler was quoted as saying, as he referred to a MoU
signed during a meeting with his Iranian counterpart, Parviz Fattah,
on Sunday.

The Iranian Energy Ministry announced on Monday that a second MoU, in
addition to the one signed in May in Ankara concerning cooperation in
electricity field, was signed during talks with Guler and Fattah. At
the time, Turkey and Iran had reached an agreement in principle over
dam and power station construction and electricity trade.

The two countries had agreed then that Iran would sell six billion
kilowatt-hours (kWh) a year.

This time the two countries also agreed on strengthening existing
transmission lines between the two countries via new investments, on
building three thermal power plants on Turkish and Iranian soil close
to the border between the two and on paving the way for investment
by the Turkish private sector in order to build dams on Iranian soil.

Iranian media elaborated on details of a meeting between Guler and
Iran’s Deputy Oil Minister Gholam-Hossein Nozari on Sunday and said
that exporting 35 billion cubic meters of refined gas and building a
new pipeline between Iran and Turkey are part of the new agreements
made between the two.

"We agreed to found a joint company to build Iran-Turkey and
Turkey-Europe pipelines. We also agreed to transit Iran’s gas to
Europe via Turkey and Turkmenistan’s gas to Turkey via Iran," Nozari
was quoted as saying by the Iranian news wires.

In addition to Ahmadinejad, Guler held talks with Iranian Foreign
Minister Manouchehr Mottaki on Monday.

Guler’s visit to Tehran came in defiance of strongly worded objection
by the US, Turkey’s NATO ally, to cooperation with Iran in the
energy field.

Following the signing of the MoU late last month, when Turkey agreed
to use Iran as a transit route for Turkmen gas and agreed to develop
Iran’s South Pars gas field to facilitate the transport of gas on
to Europe, Washington soon voiced its opposition to the MoU, with US
Ambassador to Turkey Ross Wilson stating an expectation that Ankara
would take US concerns into consideration as it moved ahead on the
deal, which remains at the MoU level.

Meanwhile, a report by the private NTV news channel linked absence
of a final agreement to objection by the Turkish Foreign Ministry
who opposed to its signing saying that this would damage relations
with the US.

The Foreign Ministry has been concerned that such an agreement could
facilitate adoption of two separate resolutions that are pending in the
US Senate and the House of Representatives, urging the administration
to recognize the World War I-era killings of Anatolian Armenians as
genocide. While Foreign Ministry officials were not available for
comment on the issue as of Monday, US Embassy officials in Ankara
told Today’s Zaman that they had "nothing to add to earlier comments"
on Turkish-Iranian energy cooperation.