According to reports, Turkey’s Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu was quoted by media as saying that Ankara would not cut off trade ties with Iran “at the behest of other countries” in a clear reference to the US.
“If the United States’ decisions are aimed at peace and stability, then we’ll support them, but we don’t have to follow every decision. Being allies doesn’t mean following every decision word for word,” Cavusoglu told the Turkish broadcaster NTV in an interview.
“Iran is a good neighbour and we have economic ties. We are not going to cut off our trade ties with Iran because other countries told us so.”
Earlier, Turkey’s economy minister had emphasized that Washington’s demand to stop purchasing oil from Iran will not be binding for Ankara.
Nihat Zeybekci told reporters on Wednesday that Turkey would only respect measures announced by the United Nations toward its eastern neighbor.
“The decisions taken by the United States on this issue are not binding for us. Of course, we will follow the United Nations on its decision. Other than this, we will only follow our own national interests. In addition, we will pay attention so our friend Iran will not face any unfair actions,” Turkey’s Economy Minister Nihat Zeybekci told reporters on Wednesday.
Iran has been Turkey’s leading supplier of crude oil for most of the past two decades, ceding first place to Iraq only for three years during the recent period of US sanctions.
Imports last year came to 11.493 million million tonnes, or 44.6% of the total supply, at an average of 230,800 barrels per day (bpd), up 66% from the 6.939 million tonnes supplied in 2016, according to reports.
The Turkish top diplomat finally said his country had conveyed to Trump its discomfort about a purported decision by Washington to cancel delivery of F-35 jets to Ankara.
The US has warned Turkey against the purchase of S-400 air defense missile systems from Russia, threatening to impose sanctions on Ankara and also stop delivery of F-35 fighter jets it is contracted to give to the country.
Cavusoglu, however, said Trump had told Ankara that necessary steps over the delivery of the advanced fighter jets would be taken. He said there were no problems over the delivery of the planes yet, adding that he did not think there would be any in future either.