Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan addresses the 73rd session of the United Nations General Assembly at U.N. headquarters in New York, US, September 25, 2018.
(photo credit: CARLO ALLEGRI/REUTERS)
NEW YORK - Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Turkey will continue to buy natural gas from Iran in line with its long-term supply contract despite Trump's threats to punish countries doing business with Iran.
"We need to be realistic... Am I supposed to let people freeze in winter? ... Nobody should be offended. How can I heat my people's homes if we stop purchasing Iran's natural gas?" he said.
Trump pulled the United States out of a 2015 multinational nuclear deal with Iran
and in August Washington reimposed sanctions on Tehran, lifted in 2016 under the pact. US sanctions on Iran’s energy sector are set to be re-imposed in November.
In an effort to boost the economy and attract investors, Erdogan will travel on September 28 to Germany, a country that is home to millions of Turks.
"We want to completely leave behind all the problems and to create a warm environment between Turkey and Germany just like it used to be," Erdogan said, adding that he will meet Chancellor Angela Merkel during his visit.
Erdogan also said it was impossible for Syrian peace efforts to continue with President Bashar Assad in power.
Earlier this month, Turkey and Russia reached an agreement to enforce a new demilitarized zone in Syria's Idlib region from which "radical" rebels will be required to withdraw by the middle of next month.
But Erdogan said the withdrawal of "radical groups" had already started.
"This part of Syria will be free of weapons which is the expectation of the people of Idlib... who welcomed this step," he said. The demilitarized zone will be patrolled by Turkish and Russian forces.
Close to 3 million people live in Idlib, around half of them displaced by the war from other parts of Syria.
The two NATO members have differed over Turkey’s crackdown on suspected opponents of Erdogan after a failed coup in 2016 and over its detention of German citizens.