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US warns firms against breaking Iran sanctions
by Staff Writers
Rome (AFP) Jan 15, 2014

Executives from top French firms to visit Iran amid thaw
Paris (AFP) Jan 15, 2014 - Executives from some of the biggest French firms will visit Iran soon, France's largest employers' union said Wednesday, to explore opportunities amid a thaw in relations following a landmark nuclear deal.

"It's confirmed," Pierre Gattaz, head of the MEDEF, told AFP in response to a question on the subject.

The Wall Street Journal reported Tuesday that executives from companies such as energy giants GDF Suez and Alstom and services and utilities firm Veolia Environnement were due to visit Iran next month.

Gattaz refused to say how many companies would be present in the delegation -- put together by MEDEF -- nor when the trip would take place.

Iran and Western powers announced Sunday that a six-month deal in which Tehran agrees to roll back sensitive parts of its nuclear programme in exchange for partial relief from sanctions would take effect from January 20.

The deal -- agreed in November -- should unblock billions of dollars in funds to Iran, breathe new life into the economy and provide much-needed relief across the country.

Sanctions will be eased in the gold and precious metals, auto and petrochemical sectors.

Iran is still a "perilous" place for foreign companies to do business because of sanctions unaffected by the recent interim nuclear deal, a senior US administration official said on Wednesday during a visit to Rome.

The six-month agreement only provides for the easing of limited sanctions and the unblocking of some frozen Iranian assets abroad and foreign firms should not "over-interpret" its scope, the official said.

"Businesses need to take into account the legal and reputational risk of doing business with Iran", he said, speaking on condition of anonymity.

The official added that Italy had been identified by Washington as one of the countries with historic and current trade ties with Iran and pointed out that Tehran saw Italy as a possible "gateway" to Europe.

Italian oil major ENI, along with other foreign oil firms, should "convey to their partners in the oil sector that they are not going in now," he said.

The US is engaged in "an ongoing effort to visit key partners to continue to ensure that the sanctions regime that has been built over the past 5-10 years remains robust, remains in place," he said.

The international deal with Iran is due to come into force from January 20 and foresees the suspension of certain sanctions on gold and precious metals, Iran's auto sector, and petrochemical exports.

It will also allow for safety-related repairs and inspections for some Iranian airlines, ease restrictions on oil shipping and unblock $4.2 billion (3.1 billion euros) from sanctioned Iranian oil sales.


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EU's Ashton plans to visit Iran 'within weeks'
Kuwait City (AFP) Jan 13, 2014
European Union foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton said in Kuwait City on Monday she plans to visit Iran within weeks, two days after Tehran invited her to the country. "I read with interest the invitation to visit Tehran and it is my intention to do so in the course of the next weeks," Ashton told a press conference after talks with Kuwait's Foreign Minister Sheikh Sabah Khaled Al-Sabah. ... read more

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