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Turkmenistan, Iran Gas Dispute Serves as Ill Omen for New Year

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani (right) at a joint press conference with Turkmen President Gurbanguly Berdymukhamedov in Tehran on November 22, 2015, ahead of the Gas Exporting Countries Forum. Turkmen and Iranian interests in the energy sector appear to be diverging, and in recent years, bilateral ties seemed stretched to the snapping point. (Photo: Iranian Presidential Press Service)

In the dying days of 1997, the leaders of Turkmenistan and Iran inaugurated a 200-kilometer natural gas pipeline joining their two countries. They called it the Friendship pipeline.
 
Bilateral relations have been anything but harmonious since then. In recent years, ties seemed stretched to the snapping point, and by late 2016, a cutoff loomed for Turkmen gas supplies to Iran.
 
For a brief moment, Turkmenistan’s relationship with Iran appeared poised for a rebound. Negotiations during the waning days of 2016 reportedly produced a deal that, according to Iranian officials, would enable Tehran to continue receiving gas from Turkmenistan for the next five years. Iranian media cited unnamed officials as saying the Turkmen were so desperate to reach a compromise with the visiting Iranian delegation that they persuaded the Iranians to return to the negotiating table from the airport in Ashgabat.
 

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Turkmenistan, Iran Gas Dispute Serves as Ill Omen for New Year

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