Turkey refuses to cut Iranian oil imports despite demand from Washington

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Turkey will not cut off trade ties with Iran at the behest of other countries, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu said on Friday, after the United States told countries to cut all imports of Iranian oil, Reuters reported.

Washington has told its allies to cut off imports of Iranian oil by November, a senior State Department official said this week, as President Donald Trump looks to cut off funding to Iran. Trump in May said his administration was withdrawing from the “defective” 2015 nuclear deal agreed by Iran and six world powers.

“If the United States’ decisions are aimed at peace and stability, then we’ll support them, but we don’t have to follow every decision. Being allies doesn’t mean following every decision word for word,” Çavuşoğlu told broadcaster NTV in an interview.

“Iran is a good neighbor, and we have economic ties. We are not going to cut off our trade ties with Iran because other countries tell us to.”

Turkey, a NATO ally, is dependent on imports for almost all of its energy needs. In the first four months of this year, Turkey bought 3.077 million tons of crude oil from Iran, almost 55 percent of its total crude supplies, according to data from Turkey’s Energy Market Regulatory Agency (EPDK).

President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan last year said Turkey was looking to raise the volume of its annual trade with Iran to $30 billion from $10 billion.

Çavuşoğlu also said there had been no problems with the procurement of F-35 fighter jets from the United States so far, and he did not think there would be any problems in the future.

A US Senate committee passed its version of a $716 billion defense policy bill last month, including a measure to prevent Turkey from taking delivery of Lockheed Martin F-35 Joint Strike Fighter jets.

The amendment to the bill would remove Turkey from the F-35 program over its detention of US pastor Andrew Brunson. Brunson, a Christian pastor, faces up to 35 years in prison on terrorism and spying charges, which he denies.

Çavuşoğlu said Turkey had conveyed its discomfort over the issue to Trump, who reportedly said the “necessary steps” would be taken.

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