Kerry to discuss Iran with European banks in London

The US and Europe lifted sanctions in January under a deal with Iran to limit its nuclear programme

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US Secretary of State John Kerry will meet representatives of British and European banks in London on Thursday to discuss issues involved in doing business with Iran, a British banking industry source said on Tuesday.

The United States and Europe lifted sanctions in January under a deal with Iran to limit its nuclear programme, but other US sanctions remain, including a ban on transactions with Iran in dollars being processed through the US financial system.

This has meant that few European banks, and none of the big ones that have deep relationships with the US banking system, have been willing to get involved in trade with Iran, much to Tehran’s frustration.

The British Bankers’ Association confirmed a meeting was due to take place between Kerry and representatives from member banks, but declined to provide further details.

An industry source in London said Iran would be the focus of the meeting and representatives from several European banks would also be involved.

A spokesman travelling with Kerry, who is in Paris and London this week for meetings with European counterparts and an anti-corruption conference, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Kerry said last month that the United States was not opposed to foreign banks doing business with Iran in line with the terms of last year’s nuclear deal.

He said he wanted to clear up uncertainty in the business community outside the United States about investing in Iran.

The Iranian government has complained about not getting the full economic fruits of the nuclear deal. Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, the most powerful figure in Iran, has blamed the delays squarely on the United States.

“The US Treasury ... acts in such a way that big corporations, big institutions and big banks do not dare to come and deal with Iran,” Khamenei said in March.

The Iranian business community’s hopes of rapidly emerging from years of economic isolation have been fading.

Iranian business leaders believe the United States has failed to spell out exactly what is permitted and what is not, maintaining uncertainty and putting off international banks from processing Iran-linked transactions.

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