Turkey, Iran to boost relations following U.S. sanctions on Iranian oil

Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu on Friday said Ankara is ready to enhance its bilateral relations with Tehran in relation to challenges arising from a U.S. withdrawal from the 2015 nuclear accord with Iran and other six world powers, state-run Anadolu Agency reported.

“We are evaluating the process after the U.S. withdrawal from the nuclear deal with both Europeans and Iran,” Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu told reporters in Isfahan, central Iran, after a meeting with his Iranian counterpart Javad Zarif.

Two country’s top diplomats discussed regional issues, the possibility of using national currencies rather than the U.S. dollar and signed a document to cement their mutual strategic partnership, Anadolu said. 

The meeting took place in the midst of escalating tensions between Washington and Tehran after the Iranian military shot down a U.S. maritime surveillance drone in Iran's southern province of Hormozgan on Thursday, citing a violation of its airspace.

The U.S. military said it had not violated Iranian airspace, saying that the drone was flying in international airspace some 34 kilometres (21 miles) from Iran over the Strait of Hormuz.

Tensions have been soaring between the United States and Iran since May 2018, when Washington unilaterally retreated from the nuclear deal and later reinstated sanctions on Iranian oil. 

The 2015 nuclear pact seeks to head off any pathway to an Iranian nuclear bomb in return for the removal of most international sanctions opposed by a host of countries, including Turkey.

Ankara has repeatedly criticised the U.S. decision to fully re-impose sanctions on Iranian oil since Turkey has no reserves of its own and is dependent on oil and gas imports and the U.S. move leaves Ankara vulnerable to a rise in energy prices.