Greek, Iranian diplomats eye closer ties, energy cooperation

Foreign Minister Nikos Kotzias and his Iranian counterpart Mohammad Zavad Zarif on Thursday vowed to boost bilateral ties at the political level as well as trade relations, with a key focus on the energy sector.

Zarif also met with Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras, who said Greece was determined to boost bilateral relations, while members of the delegation traveling with Zarif met with Energy Minister Panagiotis Lafazanis and other officials.

Zarif’s talks with Kotzias were held in an “extremely positive atmosphere,” according to sources. During a joint press conference, both men emphasized the strong historical ties binding the two countries together and the friendly nature of bilateral relations.

The talks focused on energy, with Kotzias noting that the development of cooperation in the sector was “desirable.” “Iran has a high quality and quantity of natural gas and especially oil and Greece is in a geographical position that constitutes an entry point to the European Union,” Kotzias said, adding that Greek shipowners controlled large fleets that could be used for the transport of oil and liquified natural gas.

Zarif said he was also interested in cooperating in the technology, tourism and agriculture sectors. He noted that both countries share a similar view on “peace and security and the fight against terrorism,” emphasizing in particular the need to crack down on ISIS.

The Iranian diplomat, who is to meet US Secretary of State John Kerry in Geneva on Saturday for talks regarding Iran’s nuclear program, said he was hopeful that a “sustainable” and “mutually respectful” deal can be struck with world powers in talks and warned against “excessive demands” that would obstruct efforts to reach an agreement.

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