French Minister Calls Business Delegation's Visit to Iran 'Bet on Future'
TEHRAN (Tasnim) – The recent visit to Tehran by French business figures is a bet on the future, France's finance minister said Wednesday after US criticized the visit.
"The visit was a bet on the future based both on firmness and negotiation,” Pierre Moscovici told reporters in Paris on Wednesday, 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, reminding him that the interim deal was only temporary and there was yet a long way to go before finalizing the matter.
Moscovici brushed off criticism by Kerry and other US officials like Wendy Sherman regarding the French business delegation's visit to Iran, saying "It's not about doing business as usual.”
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.
Meantime, the Iranian foreign ministry spokeswoman had stressed on January 4 that economic relations between Iran and France would serve the interests of both sides, after a delegation of French businessmen arrived in Tehran.
“Economic ties between Tehran and Paris encompasses the both sides’ interests,” Marziyeh Afkham said, after a delegation of more than 100 French companies arrived in Tehran Monday, in the biggest demonstration of western business interest in Iran following an easing of sanctions on the country.
The French business delegation, mainly from the European country’s car making, mining, industrial and commercial sectors, had a meeting at Iran Chamber of Commerce, Industries, Mines and Agriculture on Monday.
Pointing to the French team’s three-day visit to Iran, Afkham noted that the trip aims to “identify the economic potentials and the future investment opportunities in different economic sectors of Iran.”
France and the other countries are preparing to seize opportunities in the Iranian market following the easing of sanctions on Tehran after a nuclear deal between the Islamic Republic and the six major world powers took effect on January 20.
On November 24, 2013, Iran and the Group 5+1 (the five permanent UN Security Council members plus Germany) signed a six-month deal on Tehran’s nuclear program in Geneva after several rounds of tight negotiations.
Based on the interim deal (the Joint Plan of Action), the world powers agreed to suspend some non-essential sanctions and to impose no new nuclear-related bans in return for Tehran's decision to suspend its 20% enrichment for a period of six months.
The breakthrough deal also stipulates that over the course of six months, Iran and the six countries will draw up a comprehensive nuclear deal which will lead to a lifting of the whole sanctions on Iran.