France business section against recent US statements on Iran

Young journalists club

News ID: 3419
Publish Date: 13:35 - 06 February 2014
Tehran, YJC. French Finance Minister Pierre Moscovici has brushed off criticism by US officials regarding a French business delegation's visit to Iran.

Moscovici on Wednesday said the visit by the French business figures was "a bet on the future based both on firmness and negotiation."

"It's not about doing 'business as usual’," Moscovici told reporters in Paris, referring to an expression used by US Secretary of State John Kerry in his phone conversation with his French counterpart.

Kerry had complained to French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius after a 116-strong French delegation traveled to Iran for commercial opportunities.

The group, which included representatives of major multinational companies such as Total, Lafarge and Peugeot, arrived in Tehran less than two weeks after the recent easing of sanctions against Iran in late January.

According to PressTV, the French delegation is the largest of its kind from Europe since last November’s landmark nuclear deal was signed between Iran and the world powers in Geneva.

Under the interim agreement between Iran and the five permanent UN Security Council members -- Britain, China, France, Russia and the United States -- plus Germany, Iran limited certain aspects of its nuclear activities for a six-month period in return for some relief from the illegal Western sanctions.

Prior to the French delegation, a large Turkish delegation visited Iran last month. The group was headed by Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who said the neighboring countries aimed to more than double their trade volume to $30 billion in 2014.

The French delegation is the latest in a string of foreign trade missions to beat a path to Tehran since the November deal, AFP said recently.

French employers' union vice president Thierry Courtaigne said the delegation, which arrived in Tehran Monday, wanted to assess the commercial opportunities opened up by the easing of Western sanctions.

But a senior US official said Secretary of State John Kerry had telephoned his French counterpart Laurent Fabius to tell him that the visit -- while from the private sector -- was "not helpful" in sending the message that "it is not business as usual" with Iran.

Testifying before sceptical lawmakers, US Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs Wendy Sherman said Washington was warning the growing number of business delegations heading to Iran that sweeping sanctions remained in place.

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