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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Iran Lauds Gas Link Via Turkey

NICOSIA -- Iranian President Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, urging the transit of products through Iran and Turkey, has welcomed Turkey's bid to pipe Iranian and Turkmen gas to Europe, the Iranian news agency IRNA said Tuesday.

It said he made the remarks to Turkish President Suleyman Demirel in talks in Tehran on Monday.

"Rafsanjani said the transit of goods between Iran and Europe through Turkey and the transit of goods between Turkey and the central Asian states through Iran can be in the mutual interest of the two sides," IRNA reported.

He voiced the hope that Ankara would speed the building of a railway from Ankara to Iran's border which, when linked with an Iranian line being built, would link Turkey with Turkmenistan, a landlocked, former Soviet desert nation to Iran's northeast.

But economically more significant would be the construction of two multibillion-dollar gas pipelines which would provide valuable outlets for Iranian and Turkmen gas, while giving Turkey new energy sources and revenue for serving as a conduit.

IRNA, in a dispatch monitored in Cyprus, said Rafsanjani accepted Turkey's bid to serve as a conduit for Turkmen gas through Iran and for Iranian gas to Turkey.

It did not give further details, but five-nation negotiations are at an advanced stage to build a 4,000-kilometer line to carry natural gas from Turkmenistan through Iran to Europe, or at least to Turkey.

This pipeline, with a target start-up date of 1998, would cost an estimated $8 billion, with reports mentioning a range of volume from 15 billion to 31 billion cubic meters per year.

A powerful European-Iranian consortium has been formed to consider the other project, which if approved would follow a separate route and carry 30 billion cubic meters of gas a year to western and eastern Europe.

Iran's gas exports are minimal though it has the second largest reserves in the world.

Turkmenistan last year produced about 75 billion cubic meters of gas. It has had to rely on export pipelines through former Soviet republics but has had to face either its gas being diverted or customers not paying.

It has therefore made diversification of its export routes a top priority and is considering ambitious pipelines to Japan through Kazakhstan and China and to the Arabian Sea through Afghanistan and Pakistan.