Zarif: Iran, EU will press US on access to global financial system

One of the Iran’s goals in nuclear talks with world powers was to secure access to the global financial system, and the United States must now do more to remove obstacles to the banking sector, Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said on Saturday.

In January, world powers led by the United States and the European Union lifted most sanctions on Iran in return for limits on its nuclear program, Reuters reported.

But the US banks remain prohibited from doing business with Iran directly or indirectly.

That has deterred European institutions, which fear they could face US legal problems if they reestablish banking links.

“Iran and the EU will put pressure on the United States to facilitate the cooperation of non-American banks with Iran,” Zarif said at a news conference in Tehran with Mogherini who was leading a team of seven EU commissioners on a one-day trip to Iran where they agreed to cooperate on everything from banking to energy to transport issues.

“It’s essential that the other side, especially the United States, fulfill its commitments not on paper but in practice and removes the obstacles especially in banking sector,” he said.

Zarif and Mogherini said in a joint statement after the news conference that the EU and Iran were agreed on the expansion of economic relations, and “encouraging banking cooperation”.

“It is in the European interest and in the Iranian interest to make sure that banks engage and feel confident to come to Iran and facilitate and support this new economic engagement,” Mogherini said.

EU mission in Iran

With a view to opening a full EU diplomatic mission in Iran an EU liaison team will be sent to Tehran, Mogherini and Zarif said in a joint statement.

“Today is a new beginning in Iran and EU relations. We hope this cooperation between the Iranian nation and European Union brings about shared interests and global development,” Zarif was quoted as saying by IRNA.

The EU executive’s visit comes on the heels of trips to Tehran by European governments seeking to revive ties with Iran after the July 2015 nuclear deal.

The EU and Iran will exchange business missions in the second half of this year and Brussels will assist Iran in becoming a member of the World Trade Organization, the statement said.

On the issue of human rights, which also figured in discussions, Mogherini said the EU would continue to be firm on its principles while maintaining dialogue with Iran.

Missile tests

Mogherini repeated that she did not see Iran’s recent ballistic missile tests as a breach of the nuclear accord between Iran and world powers.

On March 9, Iran successfully test-fired two ballistic missiles as part of military drills to assess its defense capabilities.

Zarif told the presser that Iran’s missile tests neither breach the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) nuclear agreement nor any United Nations Security Council resolutions as the missiles “are not designed to carry nuclear weapons”.

Mogherini said the nuclear deal was important for improving the security landscape in the Middle East and the two sides had agreed to work together to foster dialogue in the region.

The two sides underscored their determination to promote Iran-EU bilateral relations in various areas, particularly economy, as well as cooperation on other issues of international importance.

Referring to last July’s nuclear agreement, Zarif said Tehran and the EU “will cooperate to remove the remaining obstacles in the way of the JCPOA’s implementation”.

“We are certain that the EU’s political and economic interests lie in implementation of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action and cooperation with Iran,” the Iranian foreign minister said.

The top EU diplomat hailed the nuclear deal reached between Iran and the P5+1 states adding that the JCPOA proved “diplomacy works”.

“Iran has delivered on its side of the deal and so has the EU by lifting the sanctions,” the EU official said.

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