July 24, 2018 / 3:48 PM / 5 months ago

Turkey told U.S. it opposes sanctions on Iran: foreign minister

ISTANBUL (Reuters) - Turkey has told American officials it opposes U.S. sanctions on Iran and is not obliged to implement them, Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said on Tuesday.

Turkey's Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu talks at a press conference during a visit in the Turkish Cypriot northern part of the divided city of Nicosia, Cyprus July 24,2018. REUTERS/Yiannis Kourtoglou

President Donald Trump has pulled the United States out of a 2015 nuclear pact with Iran and ordered U.S. sanctions on Tehran, while a senior State Department official said Washington has told allies to cut imports of Iranian oil by November

Turkey has criticized Trump’s move to withdraw from the nuclear pact and has publicly resisted the U.S. call to cut oil imports from Iran.

“We do not have to adhere to the sanctions imposed on a country by another country. We don’t find the sanctions right either,” Cavusoglu told a news conference in Azerbaijan.

“We held meetings with the United States in Ankara and told them openly: Turkey gets oil and gas from Azerbaijan, Iran, Russia and Iraq. If I don’t buy from Iran now, where am I supposed to meet that need from?” Cavusoglu said.

Last week U.S. Treasury and State Department officials met Turkish counterparts in Ankara to discuss sanctions on Iran. Ankara said authorities were working to prevent Turkey being hurt by the measures.

Turkey depends on imports for almost all of its energy needs. In the first four months of this year, Turkey bought more than 3 million tonnes of crude oil from Iran, almost 55 percent of its total crude supplies, according to data from the Turkish energy watchdog (EPDK).

Ties between Ankara and Washington, NATO allies, have been strained over a host of issues including several legal cases.

A Turkish court last week ruled to keep American pastor Andrew Brunson in jail, in a case that has deepened existing rifts and jeopardized the procurement of Lockheed Martin F-35 jets by Turkey.

The U.S. Senate passed a bill last month including a measure that prohibits Turkey from buying the jets because of Brunson’s imprisonment and Turkey’s purchase of Russia’s S-400 air defense system, which are incompatible with NATO systems.

Cavusoglu, however, said there were no issues with the procurement of the jets and the United States could not exclude Turkey from the project.

“The United States needs to understand that it is not possible to get a result from Turkey through sanctions. They will see results if they approach Turkey with dialogue and respect,” he said.

“We will not bow down to such pressures, sanctions or threats. Everyone will get used to the new Turkey.”

Reporting by Ali Kucukgocmen and Tuvan Gumrukcu; Editing by Humeyra Pamuk and Dominic Evans

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