Russia's economy minister will visit Iran in April to discuss a broad range of trade issues, he said on Wednesday, playing down reports from Tehran that a barter deal involving Iranian oil exports was in the offing.
Reuters reported on Jan. 10 that Moscow and Tehran were in talks on a $1.5 billion per month oil-for-goods swap that would enable Iran, now subject to U.S.-led financial sanctions, to increase its crude exports substantially.
Details have, however, been scant and slow to emerge, amid U.S. warnings that a trade deal would undermine efforts to follow through on an interim agreement struck by Iran and six world powers in November to curb its nuclear program.
“The trip will probably happen - it won't be in March but at the end of April,” Economy Minister Alexei Ulyukayev was quoted by state news agency RIA as saying.
Ulyukayev was responding to an Iranian report last weekend that he would visit Tehran on March 21, carrying a proposal to exchange Iranian oil for railway construction work.
U.S President Barack Obama said on Tuesday he would come down like a “ton of bricks” on violators of sanctions against Tehran.
A U.S. official said last week that it appeared the Russian-Iranian deal would not go ahead for now, adding that such a deal would make it hard to a reach a comprehensive nuclear agreement with Iran at talks set to start next week.