Turkey Rejects U.S. Deadline to Cut Energy Imports From Iran

(Bloomberg) -- Turkey’s foreign minister objected to the Trump administration’s demand that it slash imports of Iranian petroleum products in six months, arguing that the time frame is too tight given his country’s reliance on its neighbor for energy supplies.

“I cannot diversify my energy sources in six months or two years,” Mevlut Cavusoglu said at a briefing in Washington after meeting with U.S. Secretary of State Michael Pompeo. “Nobody is in favor of supporting these sanctions -- it is a unilateral decision of the United States.”

Turkey was among the eight governments that got U.S. waivers to keep importing Iranian oil even after President Donald Trump’s administration imposed punishing sanctions on the Iran energy and banking sectors as part of the decision to withdraw from the 2015 nuclear accord.

The U.S. is demanding those countries reduce imports by a significant amount by the time the 180-day review period ends for the first round of waivers -- though it hasn’t said by how much. Cavusoglu said the U.S. hadn’t given Turkey details on how much it would be expected to cut.

Earlier this month, Turkey’s energy minister said the U.S. exemption only applies to a quarter of Turkey’s oil imports from the Islamic Republic, meaning it will need to cut its purchases of Iranian crude to about 3 million tons, compared with the 11.5 million tons it bought last year.

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