Iranian delegation meets ENI officials
MILAN, March 10 (AFP) - Iranian officials acocmpanying President Mohammad
Khatami have met top executives of the Italian oil giant ENI, delegation
officials said Wednesday.
The officials gave no details of the talks or when they were held.
ENI signed a deal earlier this month to develop an oil field in Iran.
Khatami, on the first visit to Italy since Iran's 1979 Islamic revolution,
arrived in Rome Tuesday and met with Italian President Oscar Luigi Scalfaro.
His trip was to culminate Thursday when he meets with Pope John Paul
II at the Vatican.
Oil was meant to figure in Khatami's visit, Iran's deputy oil minister
Mehdi Hosseini said last week.
A delegation official said he "presumed the delegations talks
about the contract," covering a 540-million-dollar deal which ENI
and France's Elf Aquitaine signed with Iran on March 1 to develop one of
the Islamic republic's offshore fields.
The field, at Dorud in the northern Gulf, would produce between 148,000
and 220,000 barrels of oil per day during the next four years.
"Iran is an oil country, and ENI is an oil group. It is therefore
logical they should speak to each other," the official said, adding
that similar talks could be expected when Khatami travels to France.
Iran depends on oil revenues for some 80 percent of its hard currency
and the economy is facing a budget shortfall of more than five billion
dollars due to the worldwide slump in crude prices.
It has also been wracked by a unilateral trade embargo the United States
imposed in 1995 as well as by sanctions Washington put in place a year
later against foreign firms investing more than 20 million dollars in Iran's
The deal was seen as a direct challenge to Washington's policy.