President: Iran keen to forge good ties with all neighbors
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani on Sunday formally inaugurated four new phases of South Pars, the world’s largest gas field.
“This exploitation is a severe blow to the enemies of this country, especially the United States, who thought that all projects and advances of the Iranian nation would cease by the imposition of inhuman and unlawful sanctions,” Rouhani said in a speech from Bushehr Province in southern Iran.
Iran has invested $11 billion to complete the four phases and they will increase the country’s gas production capacity by up to 110 million cubic meters per day, the Oil Ministry said in a statement.
Oil Minister Bijan Namdar Zanganeh said on Saturday that Iran had invested $11 billion to complete the phases 13 and 22-24 of the giant field and expected to operate 27 phases by next March
The projects will produce an additional 100 million cubic meters of natural gas per day.
France’s Total and China National Petroleum Corp (CNPC) suspended investment in phase 11 of South Pars last year after the United States threatened to impose sanctions on companies that do business in Iran.
Zanganeh said on Saturday that talks are continuing with CNPC.
“Negotiations are ongoing. A senior delegation from China is due to come to Iran for talks. They have promised to come to Iran soon,” said Zanganeh.
Zanganeh told state TV last month that Iran’s gas production at South Pars had hit 610 million cubic meters per day.
The offshore field is shared between Iran and Qatar, which calls it North Field.
Iran’s daily gas production from the field now exceeds that of Qatar, Zanganeh said.
Iran needs foreign investment to boost output from its oil and gas reserves because production has been crippled by years of Western sanctions.
A manager at National Iranian Oil Co (NIOC) said last week there were 200 undeveloped oil and gas fields in Iran.
Iran foreign policy
Earlier in the day, Rouhani said Iran is ready to establish good relations with all its neighboring countries with an objective of advancing the region’s interests.
“We are keen to have a good relationship with all our neighbors,” he said in an address to a large crowd of people in the southern town of Kangan in Bushehr Province.
He said that even if there were strains in the ties between the Islamic Republic and some of its neighbors, they had been initiated by the opposite side.
“We have a good relationship with our neighbors, including Qatar, Oman, Turkey, Azerbaijan, Turkmenistan, Afghanistan, and Pakistan, and we want such a relationship to exist between us and all of our neighbors,” he added.
Rouhani said it didn’t matter for Iran whether countries were Shia-majority or Sunni-majority or whether they were located north of the Persian Gulf or to its south. “Our goal must be the development of the entire region.”
He said that in spite of attempts by the US, Israel and “some reactionary regional countries” to exert pressure on the Iranian nation, Iran would continue on its path and develop better relations with its neighbors day by day.
The president further referred to his recent visit to Iraq and hailed Tehran-Baghdad ties as “exemplary.”
He added that good bilateral agreements had been reached during his trip to Iraq.
Heading a high-ranking delegation, Rouhani visited Iraq on March 11-13, which featured several meetings and the signing of memorandums of understanding for the expansion of bilateral relations in various fields.
Elsewhere in his address, Rouhani said that although enemies could create problems for the Iranians people, they could not bring the “brave and resistant” nation to its knees.
“We all know that our enemies have over the past year employed all their capabilities to exert pressure on the Iranian people, hoping to drive a wedge between the people of Iran and the establishment..., but the people have endured the difficulties and have responded to the enemies of their land with a resounding ‘no,’” President Rouhani said.
Reuters, AP and Press TV contributed to this story.