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Kuwait eyes Iran gas as energy trumps nuclear fears

ANTHONY DIPAOLA

TEHRAN, Iran (Bloomberg) -- Kuwait wants to buy natural gas from Iran, the second Persian Gulf country to announce plans to do so after Oman, showing that the lure of energy ties is overcoming concern about the Islamic republic’s nuclear program.

The two countries will reach an agreement allowing for exports from Iran, Kuwaiti Oil Minister Ali Al-Omair told state-run Kuwait News Agency yesterday, June 1, after the first of two days of meetings between the two governments in Tehran.

“Gulf states are being more realistic about opening up to Iran,” Theodore Karasik, a political analyst and director of research at the Institute for Near East and Gulf Military Analysis, said by phone today, June 2. “What Iran is trying to do is, first of all, lessen regional tensions through energy and economic means and, secondly, prepare the groundwork for a potential lifting of sanctions.”

Iran, the Persian Gulf state with the world’s largest gas reserves, is looking to its closest neighbors as export markets for the fuel used to run power plants and feed petrochemical plants as it also offers supply to Europe. It’s in talks with global powers about agreeing to limits on its nuclear program in return for removal of sanctions on its energy and financial industries.

Kuwait’s Emir Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmed Al-Sabah arrived yesterday in Iran for a two-day state visit, according to KUNA and Iran’s state-run Islamic Republic News Agency. The visit is the latest sign of improved ties between the Islamic republic and Gulf Arab neighbors since President Hassan Rouhani took office last year.

The emir is the second ruler in the six-member, Sunni-ruled Gulf Cooperation Council to travel to Iran since Rouhani became president in August, following a visit by Oman’s Sultan Qaboos bin Said Al-Said. Oman earlier this year signed an agreement to import gas via pipeline from Iran.

06/02/2014

 

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