Iran, Turkey traders meet to step up ties amid US sanctions

Press TV – Representatives of about 80 Iranian companies were meeting their counterparts at a conference in Istanbul on Wednesday as part of a new push by Iran and Turkey to enhance their economic relations.

Ahead of the conference, Iran’s Vice President Sorena Sattari met Turkey’s Minister for Industry and Technology Mustafa Varank who said the two regional heavyweights were set to develop their ties in industry, technology and science in particular.

The Turkish minister also pledged to enhance cooperation with Iran to help resolve problems in the region, less than two weeks after the United States imposed tougher economic sanctions on the Islamic Republic, Anadolu news agency said.

The meetings come after President Donald Trump said this month the United States had increased sanctions on Iran following an Iranian missile strike on military bases housing American troops in Iraq.

“It’s already been done. We’ve increased them. They were very severe, but now it’s increased substantially,” Trump told reporters at the White House.

Relations between Iran and Turkey have grown closer under President Recep Tayyip Erdogan despite the most draconian sanctions which the United States has imposed on the Islamic Republic.

The ties between the two neighbors came on the radar in 2017 when a deputy chief executive of Turkey’s state-run Halkbank was put on trial at a New York court on charge of helping to evade US sanctions on Iran.

Top Turkish officials offered their sympathy with Iran after the United States assassinated General Qassem Soleimani in Baghdad this month, which saw tensions between Tehran and Washington snowball into a possible military confrontation.

Varank on Wednesday touched on age-old friendly relations between Iran and Turkey, saying continuing close consultations between the two countries was ever more important given the critical developments in the region.

“Improving our close dialogue and multidimensional cooperation will make a significant contribution to the stability and prosperity of our regions, as well as to the interests of our people. I believe that with our mutual efforts, we can further our cooperation, especially in the fields of industry, technology and science,” he said.

Sattari said important efforts have been made in Iran in recent years to develop a science-based economy, citing very large companies established in this field.

“These companies have carried out great activities in the fields of information and communication technologies, biotechnology, nanotechnology and medicine both in our country and the region and achieved significant results,” he said.

Sattari said the size of human resources in Iranian universities has led to further development of the science-based economy.

Iran and Turkey have agreed to step up their economic cooperation and raise their annual trade to $30 billion.

Ankara has denounced unilateral US sanctions on Tehran, saying it is determined to maintain trade with the Islamic Republic.

Iran is a key gas supplier to Turkey which receives 353 billion cubic feet per year under a 25-year agreement signed in 2001.

Head of the National Iranian Gas Company Hassan Montazer Torbati said last March that Turkey had requested to purchase more natural gas from Iran.

Last year, the two countries signed a document to enhance their mutual strategic partnership during a visit by Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu to Tehran.