US pledges not to punish banks engaged with Iran: Zarif

TEHRAN, Sep. 26 (MNA) – The US has promised not to punish European banks that facilitate transactions with Iran, Iranian FM Zarif said Sat. in an exclusive interview with Kyodo News.

Zarif, in New York for the UN General Assembly, told Mohammad Gharebag of Japan’s Kyodo News that he received assurances from US counterpart John Kerry that greater efforts would be made to allay the undue concerns of European banks.

"Washington says they encourage everybody outside US to engage in business with Iran. Of course, we believe that was not sufficient, so we asked them to take further action to convince and actually remove the concerns of foreign institutions, particularly banks, about working with Iran," he said.

In July 2015, Iran and six major powers — France, Germany, Russia, China, Britain and the United States — reached a landmark deal on limiting Iranian nuclear activity in return for the lifting of international economic sanctions. Foreign ministers of the seven nations held their first post-deal meeting last week in New York to address Iran's concerns over implementation of the agreement.

Over the past eight months since the nuclear deal took effect, Iran has accused Washington of not fulfilling its commitments and asked engaged countries to set up the high-level meeting to find a solution.

Zarif said that at the meeting, Kerry mentioned that he had promised European banks in London in a meeting in May that the US would not punish any bank for conducting transactions with Iran.

The United States and Europe lifted sanctions in January under the landmark deal with Iran, but other US sanctions remain, including a ban on Iran-linked transactions in dollars being processed through the US financial system, which makes banks nervous about doing business with Iran due to the stiff penalties they could incur.

"We want to make it clear that legitimate business, which is clear under the definition of the agreement, is available to banks," Kerry said after the May meeting with nine executives from European banks.

Iran believes that US effort was not convincing enough for non-American banks to restart business with Iran, and says some banks have been discouraged from handling business with Tehran for fear of running afoul of the remaining US sanctions, but Washington rejects this statement.

"Major European banks are still reluctant. We expect the US to take action to allay their concerns. We will continue to work with now Japanese, Chinese, and Korean banks, as well as smaller and medium-size European banks who are engaged with Iran," Zarif said.

In the interview, the Iranian foreign minister also called on Japanese companies to engage more seriously with Iran. In particular, he welcomed Iran's purchase of small passenger jets from Japan's Mitsubishi Aircraft Corp, following the US administration's removal of restrictions on selling aircraft to Iran.

The world's two major airplane manufacturers, Airbus SAS and Boeing Co., announced last week that they had been granted export licenses by the US Treasury Department to sell passenger aircraft to Iran.

In January, national carrier Iran Air signed agreements to buy 118 planes from Airbus, estimated to be worth some 22.8 billion euros (about $25 billion). However, because more than 10 percent of the manufacturer's components are of US origin, permission by the US Treasury was needed for the deal to go ahead.


News Code 120031


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