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Iran rejects Kuwaiti threat over gas field dispute

Iran on Sunday brushed aside Kuwaiti energy minister's threat that the Persian Gulf sheikdom may take its dispute with Tehran over the offshore Arash gas field to international arbitration, IRNA reported from Tehran.

"Referring this issue to the International Court of Justice in the Hague is conditional on the consensus of both sides and its referral to the court is not on Iran's agenda," Foreign Ministry spokesman Hamid Reza Asefi said at his weekly news briefing.

Kuwaiti Energy Minister Sheikh Ahmad Fahd al-Sabah was reported recently as saying that the emirate may take the dispute to the international arbitration if diplomatic efforts are exhausted without a headway.

Iran halted drilling in the field in 2001 after Kuwaiti objections.

The sheikdom also reached a deal with energy giant Saudi Arabia on a maritime border to jointly develop the offshore reserves, which they call Dorra.

Iran's Oil Minister Bijan Namdar Zanganeh has stressed that the country would make no concessions on its rights in the Arash field. CALL ON PGCC MEMBERS AHEAD OF SUMMIT

Asefi also called on members of the Persian Gulf Cooperation Council (PGCC) to eschew controversial and divisive subjects at their next summit in the forthcoming days.

"The Persian Gulf Cooperation Council session is held at an important and sensitive juncture. We expect that our friends and brothers in the council focus on fundamental issues by having a proper understanding from the existing realities of the Islamic work and the region and refrain from raising peripheral issues.

"Arab countries are at the arrow head of the Zionist regime and the necessity for convergence among Islamic and Arab countries is felt further," the official added.

PGCC members have almost made it a rule to get down to the misunderstanding between Iran and the United Arab Emirates over the Iranian islands of Greater and Lesser Tunbs and Abu Moussa, which Tehran considers as integral part of its territory.


Asefi said Iran's foreign and intelligence ministries' officials were in talks with the Norwegian side to bring circumstances surrounding the bribery scandal involving oil giant Statoil to light. "The negotiations continue and they will be made public whenever they are seen suitable to do so," he said.

Iran's efforts, including its dispatch of two fact-finding delegations, to Norway and Britain to shed light on the case have hardly led to any crack in the case.

Statoil officials are said to have used a $15,000-million deal to bribe influential figures in the Iranian Oil Ministry to win energy contracts.

The scandal led to the resignation of former chief executive officer of Statoil after police raided its offices as charges of the company's involvement in paying kickbacks were made public.

... Payvand News - 11/30/03 ... --

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