Iran’s media have hailed the country’s success to resolve a gas dispute with Turkmenistan despite demands from Ashgabat for Tehran to pay $1.8 billion in alleged unpaid arrears for historic gas deliveries.
The country’s IRNA news agency described the success as similar to a nuclear deal that Tehran sealed with world powers last year – a landmark achievement that drew local and international praise.
“Iran was able to use smart diplomacy in gas talks with Turkmenistan and guarantee its national interests at minimum costs,” wrote the news agency in an article.
“This deal proved that negotiation … is still the best way to resolve differences. That is the reason why some describe the recent agreement [with Turkmenistan] as the JCPOA-style gas deal,” it added in reference to the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action that Iran sealed with the five permanent members of the Security Council plus Germany – the so-called P5+1 group of countries.
Turkmenistan had threatened to stop the gas flow across the border if Iran does not settle a debt which it claims remains outstanding from previous imports until Saturday.
Ashgabat claimed that Iran owed it $1.8 billion from sales between 2007 and 2008 when freezing winters led to severe shortages across 20 Iranian provinces, forcing the country to raise gas imports from its northeastern neighbor.
Both sides eventually arrived at an agreement over their differences on Saturday after a series of intense negotiations that at least in one point approached the breaking point.
“Due to Turkmens’ persistence on [threatening] to cut gas exports to Iran over claims of a $2 billion debt, the Iranian delegation left the negotiating table to return home,” wrote Mehr News Agency in an article. “At the airport, Turkmenistan’s officials persuaded the Iranian delegation to come back to the negotiating table in hopes for reaching an agreement on gas delivery to Iran,” the news agency added.
Shana news agency reported that negotiations between both sides will continue over the next two months until they arrive at a final agreement.
It is still not clear where this new deal leaves the countries over the disagreement on that unpaid debt, reported OilPrice.com.