Iranian FM: US firms isolated from economic rivalry
Iran's Foreign Minister Kamal Kharazi said US sanctions on Tehran are "isolating" US companies from economic rivalry in the Islamic republic, the official IRIB broadcasting agency said Monday.
"The failure of the United States to achieve any result by imposing sanctions against the Islamic republic has isolated many American companies," Kharazi said during talks Sunday with visiting Chinese Vice President Hu Jintao, the report said.
"Isolated American oil companies have been forced to distance themselves from economic rivalry with Iran," he said just days after US oil giant Chevron reportedly pulled out of a major investment bid for the South Pars gas fields in the Persian gulf.
Last week, the centrist Entekhab paper said Chevron, the world's fourth largest oil company, withdrew from an invitation to tender for the last four geographical zones in the exploitation of the South Pars fields because of "political pressure" from Washington. Chevron and 28 other foreign companies had been due to submit their proposals by the end of 2000.
Tehran is under a US embargo, which bans investments exceeding $40 million in Iran's oil industry, although the embargo on non-oil products was eased in April.
In December, Kharazi called on the incoming administration of President-elect George W. Bush to change US policies towards Iran, saying the time was "ripe" for Washington to "revise its policies." Since the Bush victory in the US presidential elections, several Iranian officials have called on Washington to restore relations broken in the wake of the 1979 Islamic revolution.
An influential Iranian conservative said in early December that a Republican victory in the US elections was "preferable" for Tehran, with prospects for a possible lifting of US oil sanctions. "If Bush wins, it will be certain that oil companies will have more liberty to conclude contracts with Iran. It is preferable for us, and it is (even) possible that oil sanctions against Iran will be lifted," said Mohammad-Javad Larijani. ¯ (AFP, Tehran)
© Agence France Presse 2001
© 2001 Mena Report (www.menareport.com)