France to Help Ease Closer Tehran Ties

In the wake of the historic nuclear deal, Tehran and Paris have concluded a host of major deals in such fields as auto manufacturing, aviation and energy
Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif (R) meets Christian Masset, a senior French Foreign Ministry official, in Tehran on June 3.Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif (R) meets Christian Masset, a senior French Foreign Ministry official, in Tehran on June 3.

A senior French diplomat said his side has been working to help remove obstacles to closer bilateral trade ties since the 2015 nuclear accord lifted the international sanctions against Iran.

"There has been a substantial growth in bilateral trade in the wake of JCPOA," said Christian Masset, secretary-general of the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Development, using an abbreviation that stands for the official title of the deal, the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action.

"France has been trying to clear the hurdles in the way of relations and create a proper mechanism to ensure continued cooperation between the two countries," IRNA quoted Masset as saying in a meeting with Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif in Tehran on Monday.

France was one of the six major powers that negotiated the nuclear action plan with Iran. As of January 16, 2016, the action plan has curtailed Tehran's nuclear activities in return for sanctions relief.

The trip by the French diplomat followed Zarif's visit to Paris on the third leg of his tour of European nations last week, which had also taken him to Italy and Germany.

Zarif's meetings in Paris marked the first between Iranian and French officials after French President Emmanuel Macron won office in a landslide in May, only days before the reelection of his moderate Iranian counterpart, Hassan Rouhani.

He delivered a message from Rouhani to the French leader on Friday, calling for closer cooperation.

  Slew of Deals

Days after the nuclear pact took effect, Rouhani traveled to the European country to sign a slew of deals estimated to be worth $33 billion.

While the former French government adopted one of the toughest lines on Iran during the nuclear negotiations, the election of the current business-friendly centrist president is believed to have improved the prospects of deeper Tehran-Paris engagement.

Macron, in his message to congratulate Rouhani's reelection, said his government would work on intensify economic, scientific and cultural ties with the Islamic Republic.

In the latest sign of enhanced bilateral trade, France's Total signed a contract with Tehran on Monday to develop Iran's South Pars, the world's largest gas field, marking the first major western energy investment in Iran after it shook off years of economic sanctions.

Other major French corporations, including planemaker Airbus and automobile manufacturers Peugeot and Renault, have also signed deals with Iranian counterparts.

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