Kerry says French business trip to Iran 'not helpful'

Kerry says French business trip to Iran 'not helpful'

PanARMENIAN.Net - U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry has told his French counterpart a trip to Iran by French business executives was "not helpful" and gave the wrong impression that Tehran was open for business as usual, a U.S. official said, according to Reuters.

Under an interim deal reached between Iran and six world powers last November, Tehran agreed to limit parts of its nuclear program in exchange for the easing of some international sanctions.

The relaxation in penalties has triggered a race among Western firms to explore lucrative business opportunities. On Monday, Feb 3, Iran welcomed more than 100 executives from France's biggest firms - Paris's most senior trade delegation in years.

"Secretary Kerry has talked directly to Foreign Minister (Laurent) Fabius about the trade delegation ... about how this is not helpful in this regard to ensure that in fact it is not business as usual," Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs Wendy Sherman told a hearing of U.S. lawmakers in Washington on Tuesday.

"Tehran is not open for business because our sanctions relief is quite temporary, quite limited and quite targeted," she added.

No one at France's Foreign Ministry was immediately available to comment on Kerry's call with Fabius.

France, the euro zone's second largest economy, has for months vaunted what it calls an "economic diplomacy" drive to secure trade agreements with other countries. However the Iran trip was a private initiative spearheaded by Medef, the French employers' association.

The delegation on the February 2-5 trip met Mohammad Nahavandian, President Hassan Rouhani's chief of staff, and members of Iran's Chamber of Commerce, Industries, Mines and Agriculture, IRNA said.

Among the companies represented were Safran, Airbus, Total, GDF-Suez, Renault, Alcatel, Alstom, and L'Oréal, a source close to the delegation said.

Related links:
 Top stories
The Council of Europe announced it is withdrawing its representative from the joint working group on human rights in Azerbaijan.
The Russians told the United States that they should not fly U.S. warplanes in Syria, but gave no geographical information.
Because liquid water is essential to life, the finding could have major implications for the possibility of microscopic life forms on Mars.
“If our very vital and close partner ODIHR cannot observe, that we also don’t observe in Azerbaijan,” OSCE PA President said.
Partner news