Tehran seeks another Turkish bank for oil, gas transactions
President Rouhani is to visit Turkey on June 9, for the first time since he was elected last year.Iran seeks another Turkish lender to take part in its oil transactions along with the state-owned Halkbank, a Turkish Cabinet minister has announced.
Iran is insistent on another bank apart from Halkbank to reach the $30 billion trade volume aimed for by the end of 2015 with Turkey, Development Minister Cevdet Yılmaz said.
Halkbank has been under scrutiny over its gold trade with Iran during last year’s corruption probe. The bank’s ties with Iranian business had drawn Western disapproval amid U.S.-led efforts to curb Tehran’s disputed nuclear program.
Turkey has bought natural gas and oil from Iran through an indirect system whereby Iranian exporters received payments through Halkbank Turkish Lira accounts and used that money to buy gold. The bulk of that gold was then shipped from Turkey to Dubai, where Iran could import or sell it for foreign currency. Iranian President Hassan Rouhani is expected to visit Turkey on June 9 to bolster bilateral ties.
Iran and Turkey will sign six cooperation agreements in various fields, including the energy sector, during Rouhani’s upcoming visit to Ankara, according to Iranian Communications Minister Mahmoud Vaezi as reported by Iran’s Press TV yesterday.
Vaezi, who is now in Turkey, said “Turkish officials are willing to increase natural gas imports from Iran,” adding that Tehran is ready to meet the demand. Commenting on the possibility of transferring Iran’s natural gas to Europe via Turkish soil, Vaezi said negotiations are ongoing between Tehran and Ankara.
Iran’s contentious nuclear program is also expected to figure high on the agenda of the talks in Ankara. Western powers fear Iran may be seeking nuclear weapons under the guise of a civilian energy program, but Tehran insists its intentions are solely peaceful. Iran and Turkey signed several documents on economic, cultural, political, trade, banking, customs and cinematic cooperation during Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s visit to Iran in January.