Kerry: Don’t use US as an excuse

LONDON – Companies should not use the United States as an excuse for not doing business with Iran, US Secretary of State John Kerry said on Tuesday ahead of a meeting with European banks to discuss the Iranian issue.

The US and Europe lifted sanctions in January under a deal with Iran to limit its nuclear program, but other US sanctions remain, including a ban on Iran-linked transactions 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.

“Businesses should not use the United States as an excuse if they don’t want to do business, or if they don’t see a good business deal … that’s just not fair, that’s not accurate,” Mr Kerry told reporters shortly after arriving in London.

“We sometimes get used as an excuse in this process,” he added.

A US official confirmed that Mr Kerry would meet representatives of European banking institutions in London today to address their concerns about conducting business with Iran in the wake of the nuclear deal.

“It’s important to have clarity and the clarity is that European banks, as long as it’s not a designated entity, are absolutely free to open accounts for Iran, trade, exchange money, facilitate a legitimate business agreement, bankroll it, lend money — all those things are absolutely open,” Mr Kerry said.

British banks including Barclays, HSBC and Standard Chartered as well as some lenders from other European countries are expected to attend, according to sources familiar with the matter.

Spokesmen for the three British banks declined to comment.

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