Iran agreed Wednesday to give Japan preferential negotiating rights to develop part of one of the largest oil fields in the Middle East, officials said.
The agreement was reached here between Iranian Oil Minister Bijan Zanganeh, who is accompanying visiting President Mohammad Khatami, and Japanese trade minister Takeo Hiranuma.
"It was ... agreed that National Iranian Oil Company of the Islamic Republic of Iran and Japanese oil companies shall commence negotiations for the appraisal and development of a specific area of the Azadegan oil field," a joint statement said.
The preferential deal allows a Japanese consortium to negotiate exclusively with Iran to acquire the developing and operating rights for the field in southwestern Iran, one of the biggest in the Middle East.
The field is said to have oil reserves of more than 26 billion barrels. It will be Japan's biggest oil development project -- TOKYO (AFP)
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