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.
The United States reimposed sanctions on Iran after pulling out of the landmark 2015 nuclear deal, and says it aims to reduce Tehran’s energy sales to zero.
“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.
At the sidelines of the General Assembly on Wednesday, Erdogan denied allegations that Turkey had helped Iran bypass sanctions in the past, saying these were allegations by government opponents.
“These are the allegations voiced by a terrorist organization known as FETO who are behind the failed coup of July 2016 in Turkey,” Erdogan told Fox News.
“These allegations are more than wrong, these are all produced propaganda by the FETO terrorist organization.”
Turkey refers to the movement of US-based Muslim preacher Fethullah Gulen as “FETO” but the organization denies involvement in the coup attempt and insists it is a peaceful group promoting education and Islam.
Erdogan this week also called for caution over blaming Iran for this month’s attack on a Saudi Arabian oil facility in an interview with Fox News.
While Yemen’s Iran-backed Houthi rebels claimed responsibility for the strikes on September 14, Riyadh, Washington and several European governments say Iran was responsible.
Tehran has denied any role in the strikes.
“I don’t think it would be the right thing to do to blame Iran,” Erdogan said in the interview.