MOSCOW, April 7 (UPI) -- Russian natural gas company Gazprom announced Thursday that it was exploring ways to cooperate more closely with Iran in the energy sector.
Gazprom chief Alexei Miller welcomed Iranian Deputy Vice President for Economic Affairs Ali Agha Mohammadi to Moscow to discuss bilateral energy issues.
"The parties discussed the opportunities for Russia and Iran to develop cooperation in the oil and gas industry," the Russian company said in a statement."Special attention was paid to the global energy market trends and the issues of strategic partnership within the Gas Exporting Countries Forum activities."
Russia, Iran and other leading natural gas producers had their first ministerial meetings for the GECF in Tehran in 2001. It was established as a forum to boost cooperation among member states similar to its oil counterpart, the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries.
Russia holds the most natural gas reserves in the world with Iran a close second. Iran remains defiant about commercial activity in the energy sector despite Western economic sanctions imposed as punishment for Tehran's controversial nuclear program.
State-run Gazprom has played a role in the giant South Pars gas field off the coast of Iran since 1997.