Italy's ENI to pull out of Iran
Washington Post

BRUSSELS -- ENI SpA's chief executive said Thursday that the Italian energy company will pull out of Iran after current contracts to develop two gas fields there run out, as international pressure grows to isolate the country over its disputed nuclear program.

Paolo Scaroni also said the company plans to raise around euro1.5 billion from selling off shares in three gas pipelines in order to settle a European Union antitrust dispute.

He told reporters that the company won't prolong contracts it signed in 2001 to develop two Iranian gas fields. Iran has the world's second largest gas resources after Russia and has resisted global pressure - including U.S. sanctions - over its program to enrich uranium. Iran says its program is peaceful but the U.S. says it suspects Iran is trying to build nuclear weapons.

"We will continue to abstain in the future," Scaroni told reporters.

Italy has long enjoyed strong commercial ties with Iran. But President Silvio Berlusconi this week called for tighter sanctions against Iran and said Italian companies have cut business ties with Iran by a third since 2007. The Italian government owns about 30 percent of ENI.

German industrial conglomerate Siemens AG said last week that it will stop doing business in Iran by the middle of 2010. European banks such as Deutsche Bank, Commerzbank, UBS AG and Credit Suisse Group have also pulled out of Iran.

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