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France

France's Fabius to visit Iran after nuclear deal sealed

media French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius with Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif in Geneva in November 2013 Reuters/Denis Balibouse

French Foreign Affairs Minister Laurent Fabius says he has accepted the invitation of his Iranian counterpart Mohammad Javad Zarif to go to Iran soon, as Tehran is set to reopen for business after the landmark deal on its nuclear programme.

France has welcomed the West’s nuclear deal with Iran which allows for a gradual lifting of Western sanctions in exchange for a monitored commitment not to develop nuclear weapons.

Fabius did not give a date for the visit but told Europe 1 on Wednesday that French firms were "very well thought of" in Iran.

"Trade is very important. It fosters growth. It's important for the Iranians, it's important for us," he said.

"But when the president (Francois Hollande) and I took the strategic decision (to agree to a deal) ... we did not take it for commercial reasons, but for strategic reasons because we wanted to avoid nuclear proliferation," he said.

Car makers Peugeot and Renault were major players in the Iranian auto industry before the sanctions went into effect, and French energy giant Total was heavily involved in the oil sector.

PSA Peugeot Citroën has emerged as one of the first Western companies to resume ties, saying Tuesday that it is in talks to start manufacturing cars locally.

Renault, meanwhile, has also been laying the groundwork to establish a joint venture with Iran Khodro to produce cars together as soon as possible.

Representatives from France's largest employer federation MEDEF are due to visit Iran in September to explore investment opportunities and re-establish commercial ties.

More than 100 representatives from the body travelled to Iran early last year, triggering anger in the US which said it was still too early to do business with Tehran.

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