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Iran will welcome Japanese investment despite US sanctions: Oil Minister

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
Iranهشد Oil Minister Javad Owji

Iran’s Oil Minister Javad Owji says the country will welcome investment by Japanese companies in its petroleum sector as he insists Tehran will work to attract investment from abroad without waiting for a removal of American sanctions.

“We are one hundred percent ready to accept investment from Japanese companies in Iranian oil and gas markets,” Owji was quoted as saying by Japan’s NHK television in remarks published on Monday.

Owji is in Japan to attend the state funeral of former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe who visited Tehran in June 2019 at the height of Washington’s maximum pressure campaign against Iran.  

Japan was a major customer of Iranian oil before American sanctions were imposed on Tehran in 2018. That comes as companies from the East Asian country have been involved in large-scale infrastructure projects in Iran in recent decades.

A statement from the Iranian Oil Ministry has indicated that Owji’s visit to Tokyo will also include talks with senior Japanese officials on energy cooperation issues between the two countries.

Owji said in his Sunday interview with the NHK that Iran will work to attract investment from other countries without waiting for the outcome of talks with world powers to revive a 2015 deal on Tehran’s nuclear deal which could lead to a removal of American sanctions.

He said US sanctions had hardly affected Iran’s crude oil production capacity which he said is currently around four million barrels per day while he added that Iran has increased its oil exports to several countries despite the US bans.

The minister said Iran will expand its energy ties with friendly countries like China and Russia as he mentioned a huge cooperation deal signed between Iran’s state oil company the NIOC and Russia’s Gazprom in July as a major example of Iran's resolve to boost relations with allies.

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