Iranian central bank, US treasury, international banks to meet in London

European banks after breaking sanctions with relunctancy to resume trade ties until some reassurance

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The Iranian central bank, the US Treasury and international banks will meet in London on Tuesday to discuss stalled progress on banks resuming ties with Iran after US sanctions were lifted in January, British Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond said.

European banks, some of which have been punished for breaking sanctions imposed on Iran, have shown reluctance to resume trade ties until they get concrete reassurance that they will not be hit again.

Asked by a lawmaker in parliament what discussions he was having with the United States on banking sanctions in order to encourage more British businesses to invest in Iran, Hammond said a meeting was due to take place in London.

“There is a meeting happening this afternoon ... between the Iranian Central Bank, the United States Treasury and international banks based in London in an attempt to try to make some progress on this matter,” Hammond said.

The meeting follows a visit by US Secretary of State John Kerry in May where he told Europe’s top banks they have nothing to fear from resuming business with Iran as long as they make proper checks on trade partners.

The banks however reiterated their concerns after the meeting, with lenders including Standard Chartered and Societe Generale saying they had no immediate plans to resume commercial activities with Iran.

Nine executives from leading European banks took part in the May meeting, including Deutsche Bank Chief Executive John Cryan and HSBC’s UK head Antonio Simoes.

It was not immediately clear which banks would attend Tuesday’s meeting.

Hammond said at that time that the objective was to draw Iran back into the international community, overcoming banks’ concerns that they risk further punishment for sanctions-busting.

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