ANKARA - US Vice President Joe Biden has urged Turkey to pass new sanctions against Iran, increasing pressure on Washington's Middle East ally to join a tightening web of sanctions aimed at forcing Tehran to stop work on its nuclear activities.

Turkey, a Muslim NATO member that aspires to join the European Union, has deepened economic and financial ties with its neighbor Iran in recent years, despite Western efforts to put the squeeze on the Islamic Republic.

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"We continue to support a diplomatic solution to our concerns with Iran," Biden told Turkey's Hurriyet, in answers to questions from the leading newspaper published on Friday.

"However, we also believe that putting pressure on Iran's leadership is necessary to secure a negotiated settlement, and that is why we encourage our partners, including Turkey, to take steps to impose new sanctions on Iran, as we have continued to do," Biden said.


Washington, which is spearheading an international campaign for an ever-growing list of sanctions against Iran, has warned Turkish banks against dealing with local branches of blacklisted Iranian banks, saying they are risking US sanctions.

Turkey, which opposed the latest round of United Nations sanctions against its fellow Muslim neighbor, is bound by UN sanctions against Iran and has said it is not obliged to follow non-UN sanctions.

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