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
"This is way over the top and unacceptable," said attorney Mohammed Zarie, who heads a rights center in Cairo.
David Cameron said the ban would be imposed on MPs that "have been pushing for the unacceptable steps that have been taken.
“All sides need to remember that compromise means getting less than 100%,” Polish Foreign Minister Radoslaw Sikorski said.
The IAEA reported in 2008 that the laser facilities had been taken over by a private company that said it had no plans to enrich uranium.
Partner news
Soghomon Tehlirian assassinated Talaat Pasha on March 15, 1921

Operation Nemesis was a covert operation by the Armenian Revolutionary Federation carried out from 1920 to 1922, during which a number of former Ottoman political and military figures were assassinated for their role in the Armenian Genocide.