Frace Looks to Fan Nuke Deal With Iran

Frace Looks to Fan Nuke Deal With Iran

PARIS (AP) -- Iran's foreign minister, making the rounds of European capitals to seek benefits from a nuclear accord, is holding a string of meetings in Paris which he hopes can maintain the momentum toward change.

Mohammad Javad Zarif meets Wednesday with President Francois Hollande and is paying visits to France's foreign and finance ministries.

France has been a leader in reaching out to a post-sanctions Iran, announcing a bevy of potential business deals during a visit by President Hassan Rouhani soon after the international nuclear accord with Iran was implemented in January.

The deal gave Iran relief from decades of crippling sanctions in exchange for curbing its nuclear program. But capitalizing on it has been slow going, as Western businesses and the banking sector remain wary of investing in the unknown.

Zarif arrived in Paris on Tuesday as Boeing announced what could become the biggest deal between Iran and an American company since the 1979 revolution — a multibillion-dollar agreement of intent to buy aircraft. France-based Airbus announced a similar transaction in January.

French Foreign Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault was expected to use his meeting with Zarif to push forward with the momentum from the nuclear accord.

France also wants to use bilateral ties to encourage Iran into an international role, and coax Tehran out of its policy as an active supporter of Syria's Bashar Assad.

Human rights issues, particularly Iran's liberal recourse to the death penalty, will be on the table with Ayrault, a diplomatic official said.

A French diplomatic official, far from showing dismay at the competition, said the Boeing deal — if it goes through — shows things are "moving in the right direction." The official asked not to be identified because he wasn't authorized to speak publicly on the matter.

"Our goal is to show the (Iranian) people who think it is a good accord that they are right," the official said. "To be durable, it must produce benefits on both sides."

Air France restarted flights to Tehran in April. Automaker PSA Peugeot Citroen finalized a 400-million euro joint venture with Iran's Khodro on Tuesday to produce latest generation cars.

The nuclear deal seeded hope for an end to enmity between the Islamic Republic and the West, thriving economic partnerships and, for Western nations, a chance to draw Iran into the international community.

(KA)