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Turkey, Iran sign agreement for energy cooperation

Nov 20, 2007 - The Associated Press

Turkish and Iranian energy ministers said Tuesday that they signed an energy cooperation agreement that includes the building of power plants and improving electricity transport infrastructure.

Private companies from the two countries will build a hydroelectric and two thermal power plants in Iran and another thermal power plant in Turkey, Turkey's state-run media said.

Existing electricity transfer lines would be improved by state companies, Turkish minister Hilmi Guler said at a joint news conference with his Iranian counterpart Parviz Fettah. Guler said the details of how much electricity would be imported from Iran to Turkey would be worked out later.

The U.S. has criticized Turkey for its energy agreements with neighboring Iran, saying such a position reduces the effectiveness of the U.S. diplomatic effort to persuade Iran to suspend its nuclear enrichment that could lead to nuclear arms.

"The interests of our country are more important than everything else," Guler said.

Turkey signed a preliminary agreement with Iran in July regarding construction of two natural gas pipelines through Turkish territory, one from Iran, the other from Turkmenistan.

Turkey and Iran are expected soon to complete the agreement to build some 3,500 kilometers (2,200 miles) of gas pipelines to transport up to 40 billion cubic meters (1.4 trillion cubic feet) of gas annually to Europe through Turkey.

Reuben Jeffery III, U.S. undersecretary of state for economic, energy and agricultural affairs told reporters in a September visit to Turkey that the U.S. expects "Turkey and other governments to help effectively implement the spirit of not one but two unanimous U.N. Security Council sanctions," against Iran.

Iranian Minister Fettah said "some countries might be upset by the state of bilateral relations" between Turkey and Iran.

"But the two countries are independent and strong. The agreements concern their governments and people. (Other countries) will accept this reality in the future," Fettah said.