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Iran ready for European gas role

Sanctions currently stand in Iran's way.

By Daniel J. Graeber

UNITED NATIONS, Sept. 25 (UPI) -- Iran can play a central role in the energy security strategy for Europe if it's met with open arms, the Iranian president said from New York.

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani is in the United States to attend a meeting of the U.N. General Assembly. During a meeting with Austrian President Hans Fischer, the Iranian leader said gas installations in western Iran could link to Europe.

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"Iran can be a secure energy center for Europe," the Iranian president said.

Iran has held out its natural gas reserves to a European community eager to break Russia's grip on the regional energy sector. It touted its gas as an option to fill the now-shelved Nabucco pipeline through Turkey to Europe, though sanctions have interfered with Iran's ambitions.

Nevertheless, an Iranian president seen as a moderate when compared with his predecessor Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said Iran enjoys a "unique" position in the regional energy sector.

Iran has the second largest deposits of natural gas in the world, though the sector is underdeveloped because of a lack of foreign investments. The country uses more than half of the natural gas it produces.

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