January 16, 2014 / 4:57 PM / 5 years ago

Iranian minister says oil-goods swap deal not topic on Russia visit

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MOSCOW, Jan 16 (Reuters) - A potential multi billion dollar oil-for-goods swap was not on the agenda of meetings with Russian officials, Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said on Thursday during a trip to Moscow.

Sources told Reuters last week that Iran and Russia are negotiating a swap deal, worth $1.5 billion a month, that would enable Iran to lift oil exports substantially.

Russia is one of the countries involved in the nuclear talks that agreed to a preliminary deal to curb Iran’s nuclear programme but unlike the United States and the European Union, has not imposed unilateral sanctions on Iran.

Moscow has often used its ties with Iran, where it is in talks over building another nuclear power plant, as part of its diplomacy with the West.

Zarif, who visited Moscow on Thursday to meet his Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov and President Vladimir Putin, avoided to comment on the possible deal, telling Rossiya 24 broadcaster that it was not on his trip’s agenda.

Russian Energy Minister Alexander Novak said on Thursday Iran and Russia are looking at increasing trade volumes between two countries but declined to comment on a possible oil-for-goods swap.

“Speaking about trade and economic cooperation with peaceful intentions - like shipments of food, equipment, raw materials etc - we don’t have any restrictions here and, of course, we are looking at ways to widening trade volumes,” Novak told the same state-owned channel.

Russian and Iranian sources close to the barter negotiations said final details were in discussion for a deal under which Russia would buy up to 500,000 barrels a day of Iranian oil in exchange for Russian equipment and goods.

It would lift Iran’s oil exports by 50 percent and provide a major boost to its struggling economy. Russia may also gain from the possible deal as it earlier agreed to significantly increase oil shipments to China in coming years. (Reporting by Gabriela Baczynska and Vladimir Soldatkin, writing by Katya Golubkova, editing by Thomas Grove and William Hardy)

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