Swiss foreign minister to sign Iran gas deal

Switzerland's foreign minister was travelling to Tehran on Sunday to sign a natural gas purchase contract between Iran and a Swiss utility, a deal she said could help ease Europe's dependence on Russian gas.

Swiss foreign minister to sign Iran gas deal
Micheline Calmy-Rey would also meet Iran's Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki and other officials.

The gas deal between Elektrizitaetsgesellschaft Laufenburg (EGL) and the National Iranian Gas Export Company (NIGEC) does not violate United Nations or U.S. sanctions imposed on Iran, Calmy-Rey said.

"This contract does not violate any of the sanctions," she told journalists before her departure at Geneva airport.

"It is planned that natural gas from Iran together with natural gas from Azerbaijan will one day feed into a gas pipeline running from Greece via Albania to Italy," the Swiss foreign ministry said in a statement.

EGL said last year it had completed a 25-year deal with NIGEC to deliver 5.5 billion cubic metres of gas per year to Europe through a pipeline scheduled to be complete in 2010.

The energy group at the time declined to disclose the value of the deal, but said it was above 10 billion euros ($13.32 billion) and below 22 billion euros, depending on a number of factors such as the price of energy.

Calmy-Rey said she had been invited by Iran to visit and sign the deal. She said it was in Switzerland's strategic interest to diversify its source of energy supplies.

"We decrease our dependence, and the dependence of Europe, on Russian gas," she said.


Güncelleme Tarihi: 17 Mart 2008, 13:04