News / Middle East

Business Trip to Iran 'Not Helpful,' Kerry Tells France

FILE - U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry.
FILE - U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry.
Reuters
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry has told his French counterpart a trip to Iran by French executives was “not helpful” and that it gave the wrong impression that the West could do business with Tehran as usual, a U.S. official said.

Under an interim deal reached by Iran and six world powers in November, Tehran agreed to limit parts of its nuclear work in return for the easing of some international sanctions.

The deal called for negotiation of a full agreement within a year. The easing of sanctions, which began in late January, has prompted Western firms to race for business opportunities.

Iran welcomed more than 100 executives from France's biggest firms on Monday, the most senior French trade mission in years.

“Secretary Kerry has talked directly to Foreign Minister [Laurent] Fabius about the trade delegation... about how this is not helpful,” Undersecretary of State for Political Affairs Wendy Sherman told U.S. lawmakers in Washington on Tuesday.

“Tehran is not open for business because our sanctions relief is quite temporary, quite limited and quite targeted,” she said.

Sherman and U.S. Treasury Undersecretary David Cohen also sought to address concerns in the Congress that too many concessions had been made to Iran in the nuclear talks.

While the initial agreement was “not perfect,” it bought time to try to secure a comprehensive deal, U.S. officials said.

In Tehran, Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif criticized comments made by Sherman at the hearing in Congress, without specifying which ones he was reacting to.

“Such talk isn't helpful and could adversely impact the [nuclear negotiations]. U.S. officials should stop such comments so that we can reach a solution,” state media quoted Zarif as saying at a joint news conference on Wednesday with the head of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, Iyad Madani.

Zarif, however, acknowledged that “some comments made by Americans are for domestic consumption”.

Private initiative

Asked about Kerry's conversation with Fabius, France's foreign ministry said the two men speak regularly and that the main French employers' association MEDEF had organized the trade delegation on its own initiative.

France, the euro zone's second largest economy, has for months vaunted an “economic diplomacy” drive to secure trade agreements abroad. However, MEDEF was behind the Iran trip.

“It was that organization's initiative, in an exploratory capacity and in compliance with France's international engagements,” the Foreign Ministry said in an online briefing.

The delegation on the Feb. 2-5 trip met Mohammad Nahavandian, President Hassan Rouhani's chief of staff, and members of Irans Chamber of Commerce, Industries, Mines and Agriculture, state news agency IRNA said.

Among the companies represented were Safran, Airbus , Total, GDF-Suez, Renault, Alcatel, Alstom and L'Oreal, a source close to the delegation said.

Pierre Gattaz, the head of MEDEF, said the delegation had not violated the terms of the interim nuclear accord.

“We faultlessly respected the Geneva Convention of last November, we're familiar with this framework. There are other European country delegations who were in Iran,” he said.

Some U.S. Congress members have said it was unwise to ease sanctions before Iran did more to curb its nuclear activity.

The U.S. ambassador to Germany, John Emerson, told a business conference on Tuesday that Iran sanctions were working, “so the worst thing that could happen is that companies that would like to do business with Iran... jump to the front of the line before we are able to conclude reach this agreement”.

If Congress begins to see “a sieve or a hole in this process,” Emerson warned, “they'll jump right in there and that could blow the negotiations up.”

You May Like

Photogallery Americans Celebrate Thanksgiving With Feasts, Festivities

Holiday traditions include turkey dinners, 'turkey trots,' American-style football and New York parade with giant balloons More

Video For Obama, Ferguson Violence is a Personal Issue

With two years left in term, analysts say, president has less to lose by taking conversation on race further More

Video Italian Espresso Expands Into Space

When Italian astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti headed for the ISS, her countrymen worried how she would survive six months drinking only instant coffee More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
US Community Kicks Off Thanksgiving With Paradei
X
Anush Avetisyan
November 26, 2014 10:57 PM
Thursday is Thanksgiving in the United States, a holiday whose roots go back to the country's earliest days as a British colony. One way Americans celebrate the occasion is with parades. Anush Avetisyan takes us to one such event on the day before Thanksgiving near Washington, where a community's diversity is on display. Joy Wagner narrates
Video

Video US Community Kicks Off Thanksgiving With Parade

Thursday is Thanksgiving in the United States, a holiday whose roots go back to the country's earliest days as a British colony. One way Americans celebrate the occasion is with parades. Anush Avetisyan takes us to one such event on the day before Thanksgiving near Washington, where a community's diversity is on display. Joy Wagner narrates
Video

Video For Obama, Ferguson Violence is a Personal Issue

Throughout the crisis in Ferguson, Missouri, President Barack Obama has urged calm, restraint and respect for the rule of law. But the events in Ferguson have prompted him to call — more openly than he has before — for profound changes to end the racism and distrust that he believes still exists between whites and blacks in the United States. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video Online Magazine Gets Kids Discussing Big Questions

Teen culture in America is often criticized for being superficial. But an online magazine has been encouraging some teenagers to explore deeper issues, and rewarding their efforts. VOA religion reporter Jerome Socolovsky went to this year’s Kidspirit awards ceremony in New York.
Video

Video Aung San Suu Kyi: Myanmar Opposition to Keep Pushing for Constitutional Change

Myanmar opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi says she and her supporters will continue pushing to amend a constitutional clause that bars her from running for president next year. VOA's Than Lwin Htun reports from the capital Naypyitaw in this report narrated by Colin Lovett.
Video

Video Mali Attempts to Shut Down Ebola Transmission Chain

Senegal and Nigeria were able to stop small Ebola outbreaks by closely monitoring those who had contact with the sick person and quickly isolating anyone with symptoms. Mali is now scrambling to do the same. VOA’s Anne Look reports from Mali on what the country is doing to shut down the chain of transmission.
Video

Video Ukraine Marks Anniversary of Deadly 1930s Famine

During a commemoration for millions who died of starvation in Ukraine in the early 1930s, President Petro Poroshenko lashed out at Soviet-era totalitarianism for causing the deaths and accused today’s Russian-backed rebels in the east of using similar tactics. VOA’s Daniel Shearf reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video Hong Kong Protests at a Crossroads

New public opinion polls in Hong Kong indicate declining support for pro-democracy demonstrations after weeks of street protests. VOA’s Bill Ide in Guangzhou and Pros Laput in Hong Kong spoke with protesters and observers about whether demonstrators have been too aggressive in pushing for change.
Video

Video US Immigration Relief Imminent for Mixed-Status Families

Tens of thousands of undocumented immigrants in the Washington, D.C., area may benefit from a controversial presidential order announced this week. It's not a path to citizenship, as some activists hoped. But it will allow more immigrants who arrived as children or who have citizen children, to avoid deportation and work legally. VOA's Victoria Macchi talks with one young man who benefited from an earlier presidential order, and whose parents may now benefit after years of living in fear.
Video

Video New Skateboard Defies Gravity

A futuristic dream only a couple of decades ago, the hoverboard – a skateboard that floats above the ground - has finally been made possible. While still not ready for mass production, it promises to become a cool mode of transport... at least over some surfaces. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Falling Gas Prices Impact US Oil Extraction

With the price of oil now less than $80 a barrel, motorists throughout the United States are benefiting from gas prices below $3 a gallon. But as VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, the decreasing price of petroleum has a downside for the hydraulic fracturing industry in the United States.
Video

Video Tensions Build on Korean Peninsula Amid Military Drills

It has been another tense week on the Korean peninsula as Pyongyang threatened to again test nuclear weapons while the U.S. and South Korean forces held joint military exercises in a show of force. VOA’s Brian Padden reports from the Kunsan Air Base in South Korea.
Video

Video Mama Sarah Obama Honored at UN Women’s Entrepreneurship Day

President Barack Obama's step-grandmother is in the United States to raise money to build a $12 million school and hospital center in Kogelo, Kenya, the birthplace of the president's father, Barack Obama, Sr. She was honored for her decades of work to aid poor Kenyans at a Women's Entrepreneurship Day at the United Nations.
Video

Video Ebola Economic Toll Stirs W. Africa Food Security Concerns

The World Bank said Wednesday that it expects the economic impact of the Ebola outbreak on the sub-Saharan economy to cost somewhere betweenf $3 billion to $4 billion - well below a previously-outlined worst-case scenario of $32 billion. Some economists, however, paint a gloomier picture - warning that the disruption to regional markets and trading is considerable. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Chaos, Abuse Defy Solution in Libya

The political and security crisis in Libya is deepening, with competing governments and, according to Amnesty International, widespread human rights violations committed with impunity. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London.
Video

Video US Hosts Record 866,000 Foreign Students

Close to 900,000 international students are studying at American universities and colleges, more than ever before. About half of them come from Asia, mostly China. The United States hosts more foreign students than any other country in the world, and its foreign student population is steadily growing. Zlatica Hoke reports.

All About America

AppleAndroid