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MOSCOW, February 17, 7:42 /ITAR-TASS/. Iran is prepared soon to step up mutually beneficial and comprehensive economic cooperation with Russia which must have an advantage on the Iranian market, Mehdi Sanai, the Ambassador to Iran, told the newspaper Kommersant in an interview published on Monday.
"Negotiations are currently under way between our two countries on the conclusion of a Memorandum of Economic Cooperation. Such a document was already signed at the beginning of the 1990s. This time, this refers in point of fact to a renewal of it. We are holding talks on on a whole set of economic matters ranging from energy to banking. Accords have been already reached about the content and key parameters of such a memorandum. It remains to finalise details and technicalities which are being clarified," the Iranian Ambassador pointed out.
Mehdi Sanai emphasized in this connection, "This refers specificslly, to the supply of Iranian oil to Rusdia". "Such cooperation is not something utterly new to us: earlier Iran supplied gas to the Soviet Union. Th conclusion of new accords in the field of energy will contribute to a rise in trade turnover between our two countries and, of course, to the strengthening of our economic ties", he said.
In response to the newspaper's question whether he considers that it is essential for Tehran to take into account Washignton's concern over contractst that are being prepared with Russia, the Ambassador said, "Notwithstanding the hulllaballoo raised over this matter, I want to underline as follows: The conclusion of this Memorandum does not run counter to any international treaties, norms or rules. Moreover, Russia is far from being the only country interested in stronger economic contacts with Iran. Business delegations from a whole lot of other countries, including EU member-states, and even the USA, visited Iran in recent weeks".
"At the same time, I believe that the Russian friends, who were side by side with us in time of difficulty, must have advantages on the Iranian market. This is normal. However, Russian companies must be quick in getting a niche on the Iranian market, and not linger for fear of consequences of Western sanctions". he added.
Touching in greater detail on prospects for the supply of Iranian oil to Russia in an amount of "several hundreds of thousands of barrels a day", the Ambassador said, "We are negotiating for a scope of deliveries, whereas specific indicators will depend on where and how oil will be delivered. Russia suggested several options for destination and routes of supply. The negotiators will need time to make a choice in favour of this or that option. The talks comprise a lot of technicalities and other matrers (specifically the Russian side's expenditure on logistics, in particular)".
"A wide gamut of possibilities for interaction is opening up before us," the IRI Ambassador said. "I shall mention just several ideas under discussion. In particular, it may refer to joint energy projects inside Iran, for example, the construction of a mini-refinery of oil. We are also discussing possible investments on the part of Russia in the development of gasfields in the territory of Iran, for example, the ones at Asaluya and South Pars where Russian companies use to be present earlier. The LUKOIL Company, for instance, which participated in developing Anaran oilfield.Talks may also refer to purchases by Iran of several hundreds of megawatts of electricity from Russia. We may also give greater scope to cooperation in the field of automobile manufacture".
Mehdi Sanai said Iran is interested, in particular, "in the deliveries of Russian-made heavy-duty trucks or their assembly in our own territory (a KamAz truck assembly shop is already available in this country)". "Apart from that, he added, "Iran is interested in purchasing a huge amount of rails from Russia, as well as in its participation in railway electrification. Russan grain is also of interest to us".
"The accords that are being prepared are mutually beneficial," the IRI Ambassador emphasized. "Russa will purchase Iranian oil and Iran, using the proceeds from sale will buy what is essential to it from Russia. Part of the proceeds Iran could use for Russian companies' construction of the second power unit of the nuclear power station at Bushehr". He did not rule it out that appropriate documents might be signed before a session, scheduled for August, of the Russia-Iran intergovernmental commission. Mehdi Sanai said Tehran and Moscow, which exchaged ambassadors way back in 1520 "are guided first of all by their own national interests" and they "do not need a permission from third countries for developing their bilateral relations".