SHAFAQNA – The Syrian government took steps on Tuesday to ensure oil imports from major ally Iran will continue to meet its needs as winter approaches, sending a high-level delegation to Tehran for talks with Iranian officials including President Hassan Rouhani.
Oil production in Syria, which is under U.S. and European sanctions, has dropped sharply since the start of the conflict nearly four years ago and insurgents have taken over many energy installations.
Syrian Prime Minister Wael al-Halqi visited Tehran to discuss ways to ensure Iranian petroleum products reach the Syrian market smoothly and well as other bilateral issues, Syrian state news agency SANA said.
The two sides discussed “the provision of petroleum products by ensuring the regular arrival of oil tankers into Syrian ports”, the agency said. It said this was “to ensure meeting the needs of the Syrian people and avoid any shortages”.
In July last year Iran granted Syria a $3.6 billion credit facility to buy oil products, according to officials and bankers at the time. Syria also imports oil from Iraq.
Halqi spoke to a delegation of Iranian officials headed by First Vice President Eshaq Janhangiri, who said Iran was keen to help in the reconstruction of Syria. He also met with Rouhani who repeated a call for dialogue and political negotiations to end the crisis, Iran’s IRNA news agency reported.
Halqi also met Iran’s top security official, Ali Shamkhani, who represents Iran’s Supreme Leader on the national security council.
IRNA said Shamkhani praised “the Syrian government, people and military’s resistance against terrorist groups … the recent fruitful gains are a testament to righteousness of the path taken in Syria”.
Iran has sent military advisers to help support the Syrian army in the war.
The two sides signed agreements to improve the flow of Iranian goods into Syrian markets, including spare parts for factories and plants, and said they would expand cooperation on transport and power projects, SANA added.