Australia looking to invest in Iran's oil and gas industries

Aug 01, 2000 02:00 AM

Australian Foreign Minister Alexander Downer said that his country was looking to invest in Iran's oil and gas industries, despite US legislation banning large investments in the Iranian energy sector. Downer also said that his discussions had covered the case of 10 Iranian Jews who recently received jail terms of four to 15 years on charges of spying for Israel. Their case is in an appeals court.
Iran is under international pressure to overturn the sentences. US President Bill Clinton has said Washington will try to pressure Iran to free the Jews. "I found my discussions (about the Jews) very constructive," Downer said. The Iranians "were not hostile, they were not aggressive, they obviously knew I would raise the issue and they discussed it in a very constructive way," he said.
Downer said that "a number of Australian companies are particularly interested in investing in Iran's gas and oil sectors. As far as the US sanctions are concerned, the United States has taken a benign view of a number of European investors in Iran, so we do not expect to be treated any worse than the Europeans have been treated," he said.

The United States has strongly discouraged large investments in Iran. The Iran-Libya Sanctions Act passed by congress bars US companies from investing more than $ 20 mm in Iran or $ 40 mm in Libya, and threatens to punish foreign companies that do so.
The bill has been largely ignored by non-US companies. Italy's ENI is the most recent violator of the law, signing $ 3.8 bn deal with Iran to develop a huge gas field in the Gulf.

Source: AP via Newspage
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