US ambassador warns Georgia against Iran gas deal

A US diplomat warned Georgia against signing a long-term contract for natural gas supplies with Iran, saying in an interview published Monday that such a deal would be "unacceptable" for the United States. The weekly newspaper Kviris Palitra reported US Ambassador to Georgia John Tefft said the persistent energy problems that the poor, ex-Soviet republic has endured in recent years - most recently last winter when an explosion on Russian gas pipeline cut supplies for the country. "In these ... circumstances Georgia had to purchase a certain amount of gas from Iran. The US met the fact with understanding, but long-term strategic partnership between Iran and Georgia in that sphere is unacceptable for us," Tefft was quoted as saying by the newspaper. The US diplomat cited as reasons the recent UN Security Council resolutions regarding Iran's nuclear programs and Washington's support of a gas pipeline from an Azerbaijani oil field, that will allow new supplies to Georgia beginning next year.