Source: Press TV
Iran president hails Turkish ties
Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has highlighted what he says are the strong links between Iran and Turkey ahead of a two-day visit there.
It is his first official visit there since taking office three years ago.
The US state department has warned Ankara not to strike an energy deal with Iran that undermined diplomatic efforts to halt Tehran's nuclear programme, the UK's Financial Times newspaper reports.
Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has met
Turkey's President Abdullah Gul at the Ciragan Palace in the Turkish capital
city of Istanbul.
The two heads of states discussed regional and bilateral issues, including the enhancement of an energy partnership between the two countries. The two are scheduled to hold a press conference at 5.30 p.m. local time (1430 GMT).
Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki, Energy Minister Parviz Fattah, Oil Minister Gholam Hossein Nozari and Head of Cultural Heritage and Tourism Organization Esfandiar Rahim Mashaei are accompanying President Ahmadinejad on his visit.
Ahmadinejad's visit to Turkey, his first since he took office in 2005, is taking place at an official invitation of his Turkish counterpart Abdullah Gul.
The trip has meanwhile drawn the ire of Israel, voicing its "discomfort" to Turkey over its decision to invite the Iranian President.
During his stay, President Ahmadinejad is also expected to visit a group of Turkish elites, writers, media staff, businessmen as well as a number of Iranians residing in Turkey.
On Friday, the Iranian President will meet and confer with Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
In addition, a number of accords are to be signed by Iranian and Turkish officials. In recent years, Ankara has remarkably expanded its relations with Tehran.
Iran has reportedly increased its gas exports to Turkey after the
Russia-Georgia conflict disrupted supplies from Azerbaijan.
British Petroleum announced on Tuesday that it had closed a natural gas pipeline running from the Azerbaijani field of Shakh-Deniz to Georgia and Turkey over concerns of a military conflict between Moscow and Tbilisi.
Reuters quoted a senior source from the Turkish pipeline company, Botas, as saying on Tuesday that the company would increase gas imports from Iran in order to compensate for a reduction in Azerbaijani supplies.
Iran previously exported 12 million cubic meters to Turkey per day but has increased its daily export to 19 million cubic meters since Wednesday, IRNA reported an official in Botas as saying.
Iran possesses the world's second-largest gas reserves after Russia. Turkey has been a consumer of Iranian gas since 2001.
Head of economic affairs at the Iranian embassy in Turkey, Ahmad Noorani, said last week that Tehran and Ankara had agreed on the details of a deal to export Iran's natural gas to Turkey.
He added that the deal is expected to be finalized during Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's visit to Turkey in late August.
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