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EghtesadOnline: Secretary-General of the European External Action Service Helga Schmid has said that 100 European companies will enter into business talks with their Iranian counterparts in the near future.

In a meeting held in Oslo with the head of the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran, Ali Akbar Salehi, Schmid noted that it is anticipated that an appropriate framework for cooperation would be set up with the direct support and cooperation of the European Union, IRNA reported on Thursday.

She underlined that the EU is duty bound to find an efficient solution for banking transactions and trading with Iran.

Salehi said sticking to the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, the formal name of the nuclear deal Iran signed with world powers in 2015, and at the same time suffering from sanctions does not make sense, according to Financial Tribune.

JCPOA led to the partial removal of international sanctions against Iran's economy in 2016, as Tehran fully complied with the curbs imposed on its nuclear program.

Salehi added that the EU has taken proper steps toward safeguarding Iran's nuclear deal, but in the current situation it is necessary to put the spotlight on the practical results of policies declared by EU.

In his trip to Oslo, the Iranian nuclear chief held meetings with top officials from Norway, the EU and the UN.

On Tuesday, Salehi met with the United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres for talks on preventing a collapse of the Iran nuclear deal.

Protecting EU Firms in Iran

The European Union is taking steps to protect its companies investing in Iran from renewed American sanctions on Tehran after US President Donald Trump decided to unilaterally withdraw from the Iran nuclear deal late last month.

The European Commission says it has adopted an update of the Blocking Statute and of the European Investment Bank’s External Lending Mandate. The move follows up on the informal Leaders’ Meeting in Sofia, Bulgaria, as well as the commission’s announcements of May 18, according to Brussels-based weekly newspaper New Europe.

“These measures are meant to help protect the interests of EU companies investing in Iran and to demonstrate the EU’s commitment to the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action,” the commission said in a press release.

“Through the update of the Blocking Statute, the extraterritorial sanctions that the United States will reimpose on Iran are added to its scope, while the update of the EIB’s External Lending Mandate would make Iran eligible for investment activities by the EIB,” the European Commission said on June 6.

The commission noted that this enabling measure does not, however, commit EIB to actually support projects in Iran as it is up to the bank’s governing bodies to decide to take up such financing activities in line with relevant rules and procedures.

Following the adoption on June 6, the European Parliament and Council will have two months to object to these measures before they enter into force. If no objection is raised, the updated acts will be published and enter into force at the latest at the beginning of August, by the time the first batch of reimposed US sanctions will take effect, the commission said.

“The European Union is fully committed to the continued, full and effective implementation of the JCPOA, so long as Iran also respects its obligations. At the same time, the European Union is also committed to maintaining cooperation with the United States who [sic] remains a key partner and ally,” the commission said.

According to the New York Times, in a letter sent on June 4 to US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, EU leaders cited “security interests” in requesting that companies in Europe be granted an exemption from renewed US sanctions against Iran.

“In their current state, US secondary sanctions could prevent the European Union from continuing meaningful sanctions relief to Iran,” said the letter, signed by the finance and foreign ministers of Britain, France and Germany, as well as EU foreign policy chief, Federica Mogherini. Without that sanctions relief, Iran has threatened to pull out of the deal. That “would further unsettle a region where additional conflicts would be disastrous”, the letter was cited by NYT as saying.

French oil major Total announced in a press release on May 16 that it would not be in a position to continue Iran’s South Pars 11 (SP11) gas development project unless Total is granted a specific project waiver by the US authorities.

Total pointed to the fact that on July 4, 2017, together with the other partner Petrochina, it executed a contract related to the project in full compliance with the United Nations resolutions and US, EU and French legislation applicable at the time.

Helga Schmid European companies Business Talks With Iran