French Hard Line On Iran Won’t Hurt Trade, Says Fabius | Independent Newspapers Limited
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French Hard Line On Iran Won’t Hurt Trade, Says Fabius

Posted: Jul 22, 2015 at 4:00 am   /   by   /   comments (0)

France’s hard line towards Iran in nuclear negotiations would not hurt its businesses once sanctions are lifted, Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius said on Tuesday before a trip to Tehran aimed at reviving relations.

Fabius will next week make the first visit to the country by a French foreign minister in 12 years, just a fortnight after an agreement between Tehran and world powers designed to curb Iran’s nuclear programme in return for sanctions relief.

Despite a long history of commercial, political and social links with Iran – in the 1970s revolutionary leader Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomenei lived in exile near Paris – France took one of the hardest lines of the six powers negotiating the accord.

“It’s true that France was very firm,” Fabius told France Inter radio. “Will French firms be penalised? My answer is no because in the past we had an important presence in Iran. Our (expertise) is excellent in a lot of fields and the Iranians are serious. You know in foreign policy, I think you lose nothing in being respected.”

When the sanctions start going, Iran could recover more than $100 billion from overseas bank accounts as the oil producer seeks to rejoin the international trading system.

France’s relationship with Shi’ite Muslim Iran has also been complicated by its political and commercial rapprochement with Sunni Arab states, especially Saudi Arabia, Tehran’s main regional rival.

Fabius is due to go to Tehran on July 29 and will meet President Hassan Rouhani. He will not take business leaders with him, unlike German Economy Minister Sigmar Gabriel who brought a big commercial delegation this week as the first senior Western leader to visit Iran since the deal.

But Paris is preparing for the lifting of sanctions, which could begin in the first quarter of 2016 if Iran meets obligations set under the accord endorsed on Monday by the United Nations Security Council.

About 50 senior executives from some of France’s top firms are due to be briefed on the agreement by diplomats later on Tuesday, a senior French diplomat said. France’s main business lobby group, the Medef, is sending a delegation comprising about 80 firms to Tehran at the end of September.