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Dispute Over Persian Gulf Gas Field Poses Early Challenge to Saudi-Iranian Rapprochement

This is a locator map for the Persian Gulf and its surrounding countries. (AP Photo)
This is a locator map for the Persian Gulf and its surrounding countries. (AP Photo)

An escalating dispute over a gas field in the Persian Gulf poses an early challenge to a Chinese-brokered agreement to reconcile regional rivals Saudi Arabia and Iran.

Saudi Arabia and neighboring Kuwait jointly claim the offshore Al-Durra gas field. Iran says it has rights to the field, which it refers to as Arash. The two sides held talks in Iran in March but were unable to agree on a border demarcation.

A spokesman for Iran’s Foreign Ministry, Nasser Kanaani, said the country would not tolerate any infringement on its rights, echoing remarks by the country’s oil minister the previous day.

“We have expressed our readiness to engage in dialogue with the Kuwaiti side,” Kanaani told reporters Monday. “But if there is no interest in mutual utilization of this joint field, the Islamic Republic of Iran has naturally put the exploration and utilization of the resources on its agenda.”

Kuwait’s oil minister told Sky News Arabia last week that his country would commence drilling and production without waiting for a deal.

Saudi Arabia has sided with Kuwait, saying the two countries have exclusive ownership of the field, and has called on Iran to return to negotiations.

Related Story: Saudi Arabia Declares ‘Full Rights’ on Controversial Gas Field Claimed by Iran

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