October 20, 2017 / 2:01 PM / a year ago

French businesses seek clarity on Iran nuclear deal

PARIS (Reuters) - French businesses and foreign and finance ministry officials will meet next week as they work together to understand better the consequences of U.S. President Donald Trump’s refusal to certify the 2015 Iran nuclear deal.

FILE PHOTO: British Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond (2nd R), U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry (R) and European Union High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Federica Mogherini (L) talk to Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif as the wait for Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov (not pictured) for a group picture at the Vienna International Center in Vienna, Austria July 14, 2015. REUTERS/Carlos Barria/File Photo

Multi-nationals Total and Peugeot are among the most high profile companies to have signed new deals since the accord that provided sanctions relief for Iran and dozens of smaller French firms have also moved in or are looking to tap the Iranian market.

According to an invitation sent to companies by the Medef business group, officials from the foreign ministry, finance ministry and France’s business office in Tehran will offer on Tuesday an “analysis of the consequences of the non-certification” by Trump of the accord.

European capitals are determined to keep alive an accord that offered Iran an economic lifeline and the Paris government wants to know how its companies might react to the U.S. move.

“We’re still assessing how firms are reacting to the Trump decision, but we are trying to not be overly alarmist with them,” said a French diplomatic source.

While Trump did not pull the United States out of the agreement, he gave the U.S. Congress 60 days to decide whether to re-impose economic sanctions on Tehran that were lifted under the pact agreed between Iran and six world powers.

Despite a long history of commercial, political and social links with Iran that even saw Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomenei in exile near Paris in 1979, France took one of the hardest lines of the six powers negotiating the nuclear agreement with Iran.

Since the deal was agreed, however, France has manoeuvred to deepen economic ties with Tehran and has repeatedly said it believes Iran is fully implementing the nuclear accord.

According to a notice on the Medef website, the discussion points include an explanation on the next steps at the U.S. Congress, the position of the accord’s other signatories - Britain, France, Germany, Russia, China and the European Union - and the immediate consequences on companies already operating in Iran.

Reporting by John Irish; editing by Richard Lough/Jeremy Gaunt

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