November 20, 2018 / 8:07 AM / 23 days ago

Europe struggling to set up trading vehicle for Iran - Iran foreign minister

FILE PHOTO: Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif speaks during a news conference in Istanbul, Turkey October 30, 2018. REUTERS/Murad Sezer/File Photo

GENEVA (Reuters) - European countries are finding it difficult to set up a Special Purpose Vehicle (SPV) to allow non-dollar trade with Iran, Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said on Tuesday, according to parliamentary news agency ICANA. 

The SPV would act as a clearing house that could be used to help match Iranian oil and gas exports to purchases of EU goods, circumventing U.S. sanctions which are based on the global use of the dollar for oil trading.

The United States restored sanctions targeting Iran’s oil, banking and transportation sectors in early November.

The measures are part of a wider effort by U.S. President Donald Trump to curb Tehran’s nuclear programme and diminish the Islamic Republic’s influence in the Middle East.

“The Europeans are facing a challenge in identifying a country to host the SPV,” Zarif said. “In reality some countries who have been suggested as hosts have not accepted this task and the negotiations for identifying a host for the SPV mechanism are continuing.”

The EU wanted to have the SPV set up by this month, but no country has offered to host it, six diplomats told Reuters last week.

Trump withdrew the United States from a landmark nuclear deal with Iran last May but the remaining signatories to the agreement - Russia, China, Britain, Germany and France - have been trying to preserve the deal. 

Iran cannot continue with the current situation unless its economic benefits are guaranteed in the deal, Zarif said on Tuesday, according to ICANA.

Although the U.S. has pledged to eventually halt all Iran’s global crude oil sales, for now it has said eight countries - China, India, South Korea, Japan, Italy, Greece, Taiwan and Turkey - can continue imports without penalty.

Reporting By Babak Dehghanpisheh; Editing by Kirsten Donovan

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