Iran will pay a transit fee to export its natural gas to Europe via the proposed pipeline crossing turkey, a senior Iranian official told the Reuters news agency.

Construction 'within three years'

Javad Oji, head of the National Iranian Gas Export Co. (NIGC) said the "pipeline will enable Iran to export 50 to 60 million metres of gas per day ... It will be constructed within three years".

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Tander Yildiz, Turkey's energy minister, said that neither the Turkish government nor the state pipeline concern Botas had signed such a deal with Iran.

However, in a move likely to irritate the US and Europe who have concerns about Iran's nuclear programme, Yildiz said that "several private firms are known to be interested in a pipeline" with Iran.

Turkey's talks concerning the giant South Pars gas project in Iran have failed to result in an agreement and have been cancelled, Yildiz added.

Foreign ministers from the European Union (EU) plan to adopt tighter sanctions against Iran next week, including measures to block oil and gas investment, EU diplomats said.

Turkey said in April that Iran may export gas to Switzerland via Turkey in exchange for transit fees if it does so.