U.S. Firms, Iranian Foreign Minister Discuss Sanctions
Chief executives from the three largest U.S. oil companies met with Iranian Foreign Minister Kamal Kharrazi in New York earlier in January to discuss prospects for easing U.S. sanctions banning investment in Iran’s oil sector, it was reported on January 30th.
Exxon Mobil Corp.’s Lee Raymond, Chevron Corp.’s Dave O’Reilly and Conoco Inc.’s Archie Dunham met privately with Kharrazi, as U.S. oil firms have been stepping up efforts to gain access to the OPEC producer’s giant oil and gas reserves.
The talks follow a meeting between Iranian Parliament Speaker Mehdi Karrubi and U.S. oil companies, including Chevron and Conoco, in New York on August 31st.
Conoco spokesman Carlton Adams said, in referring to the latest meeting, that: “There was a broad range of discussions including activities in the two countries and ongoing efforts to improve relations between the two countries.”
An industry source indicated that the talks focused on U.S. policy towards Iran and did not cover investment in specific projects. Chevron confirmed the meeting, while Exxon Mobil declined to comment specifically on the talks.
U.S. oil companies have been optimistic that President George W. Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney, both former oil men, will work towards easing restrictions against investment in Iran, which has been off limits since former President Bill Clinton enacted a full trade embargo in 1995.
American and international oil firms have been anxiously awaiting news of the fate of the Iran-Libya Sanctions Act (ILSA), which is set to expire in August 2001.
ILSA threatens sanctions against foreign energy firms investing more than $20 million in Iran and Libya.
Secretary of State Colin Powell has indicated that Washington will seek improved ties with Tehran.
He said that: “We have important differences on matters of policy, but these differences need not preclude greater interaction, whether in more normal commerce or increased dialogue.” Powell has also called for his department to review existing U.S-imposed sanctions.
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