Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan says his country will continue to do trade with Iran despite threats of sanctions by the United States, arguing that it is impossible for Ankara to stop importing Iranian oil and gas.
Speaking to reporters on his flight back from New York, where he took part in the 74th United Nations General Assembly, Erdogan said Ankara was not afraid of possible economic penalties and would keep ties with its eastern neighbor, according to broadcaster NTV.
He echoed the same stance on Wednesday, shortly after US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo penalized six Chinese firms over allegations of transporting Iranian oil despite American sanctions.
“Sanctions have been avoided in the past,” Erdogan told Fox News. “I for one know that sanctions have never solved anything.”
The US, as part of President Donald Trump’s so-called “maximum pressure” campaign, has been seeking to cripple Iran’s economy through what Washington refers to as “toughest ever” sanctions.
The campaign, which began in May 2018 after Trump abandoned the 2015 Iran nuclear deal, has witnessed several rounds of sanctions that specifically targeted Tehran’s oil exports and sought, unsuccessfully, to bring them to zero.
Turkey is heavily reliant on energy and petrochemicals imported from Iran.
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