‘No evidence Iran carried out Saudi oil attack’
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan vowed Ankara would continue to purchase oil and natural gas from Iran despite US sanctions, in comments published on Friday.
Speaking to reporters on his return flight from the United Nations General Assembly in New York, Erdogan said Turkey was not afraid of possible US sanctions over its trade with Iran, adding that Ankara did not want to sever its cooperation with Tehran.
"It is impossible for us to cancel relations with Iran with regards to oil and natural gas. We will continue to buy our natural gas from there," Erdogan told Turkish reporters before leaving New York where he was attending the UN General Assembly.
Despite this vow, Erdogan admitted Turkey faced difficulty in purchasing oil since the private sector "pulled back because of US threats," NTV broadcaster reported.
"But on this issue especially and many other issues, we will continue our relations with Iran," he promised, adding that Ankara still sought to increase trade volume with Tehran.
He previously criticized sanctions against Iran, insisting that they achieved nothing.
The United States reimposed sanctions on Iran after pulling out of the landmark 2015 nuclear deal, and says it aims to reduce Tehran's foreign energy sales to zero.
Erdogan echoed the same stance on Wednesday, shortly after US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo penalized six Chinese firms over allegations of transporting Iranian oil despite American sanctions.
“Sanctions have been avoided in the past,” Erdogan told Fox News. “I for one know that sanctions have never solved anything.”
Turkey is heavily reliant on energy and petrochemicals imported from Iran.
The two neighbors had been eyeing a major jump in bilateral trade before the sanctions, setting a target of $30 billion in exchanges. Sanctions, however, have kept the overall trade at around $12 billion a year.
Saudi oil attack
The US continued its sanctions policy last week, blacklisting Iran’s Central Bank in what experts described as “cosmetic” by Washington out of frustration over the September 14 attacks on Saudi Arabia’s oil installations.
Even though Yemen’s Houthi movement has taken responsibility for the attack.
Iran has dismissed the claims as an attempt to cover the failure of the expensive US-made air defenses in preventing the attack.
Erdogan urged caution over blaming Iran for a September 14 attack, adding that it would not be right to place the burden on the Islamic Republic.
“I don’t think it would be the right thing to blame Iran,” Erdogan said, adding that the attack came from several parts of Yemen.
"We need to recognize attacks of this scale come from several parts of Yemen. But if we just place the entire burden on Iran, it won't be the right way to go. Because the evidence available does not necessarily point to that fact," he told Fox News.
Reuters, AFP and Press TV contributed to this story.