MTN is expecting earnings from its 2010 financial year to increase between 18 percent and 23 percent. Photo: Leon Nicholas.

South African mobile phone operator MTN Group said on Monday that rival Turkcell was using the threat of a US lawsuit to extort money from it.

MTN also said in a statement that talks between the two mobile operators had broken down.

The Turkish operator said in February it had launched lawsuits seeking compensation over the award of an Iranian cellular licence to MTN Group.

According to MTN, Turkcell will claim that MTN won its Iranian licence by lobbying South Africa to take a soft stance on Tehran's nuclear programme. - Reuters