Iran’s dispatch of economic delegations to US on agenda amid progressing nuclear talks

Baku, Azerbaijan, Jan. 16

By Dalga Khatinoglu - Trend:

After several years of suspending the travel of Iranian economic delegations to the United States and Europe, several Iranian delegations have been scheduled to have a series of trips to the U.S. to spur bilateral economic ties.

An Iranian-American source told Trend Jan.16 that the travel plans were "coordinated and organized by the Iran World Trade Center".

Head of Iran World Trade Center Mohammad Reza Sabzalipour could not be reached for comments on the issue, but in 2013 he told Trend that "mutual visits of Iranian and US entrepreneurs are on the agenda of the World Trade Center of Tehran now, but such visits will be organized when convenient."

Naser Mousavi Largani, a member of Economic Commission of Parliament told Trend Jan.16 that the economic delegations' visit to western countries can prepare ground for economic and cultural relations and traveling of the mentioned delegations to the U.S. "is supported if Washington gives up policies aimed to dominate the Islamic Republic".

Iran and the U.S. have cut diplomatic ties since 1980, but the bilateral trade has been going on with certain limits.

However, a senior U.S. government official told Trend Jan.16 that "the U.S. government has nothing to do with any visit of any Iranian trade delegation and does not encourage it or welcome it at the current time".

American senior official who wished to remain anonymous, added that "as we have said before, we do not believe that at the current time Iran is open for business.".

According to Iran Custom Administration's latest report, Iran has imported about $110 million worth of goods from the U.S. during last nine months, indicates 27.45 percent increase year compared to the same period last year (Iran's fiscal year starts on March 21).

The U.S. is not on the list of Iran's 50 biggest exporters, while shares only 0.29 percent in Iran's total imports.

Mousavi Largani said that "no one in Iran including Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei is against the peaceful economic and cultural relations between Iranian people and other countries. In this case the both sides can benefit the mutual ties and such kind of relations would help the US and Iran development, but the U.S. should abandon its attitude towards Iran".

An anonymous source added that "Iranian economic delegations were scheduled to visit Europe and the U.S. after March 21 and negotiations about the exact time of travel continues".

The visiting of an Iranian economic delegation to the U.S. was held three years ago during former Iranian president Mahmould Ahmadinejad's office, organized by Iran World Trade Center.

Re-launching the visits of Iran's economic delegations implies thawing of Tehran-Washington political relations, during President Hassan Rouhani's office, when the Islamic Republic and the P5+1 group are holding nuclear talks, which eventually led to achieving interim nuclear accord in November of 2013.

The new round of nuclear talks between Iran and the U.S. is held in Vienna, headed by State Secretary John Kerry and Iran's Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarid.

The U.S. State Department's Persian Language Spokesperson Alan Eyre told Trend on Jan.14 that the new rounds of nuclear talks "are underway in an atmosphere of seriousness, good will, and mutual respect".

Iran and P5+1 (the five permanent members of the UN Security Council comprising of China, France, Russia, Britain, the US Plus Germany) sealed an interim deal in Geneva on November 24, 2013 to pave the way for the full resolution of the West's decade-old dispute with Iran over the country's nuclear energy program.

The Geneva deal took effect on January 20 and expired on July 20. However the two sides agreed to extend their talks for four months until Nov. 24 to reach a permanent deal on Iran's disputed nuclear program. At a meeting held on November 24, 2014, the sides agreed to extend the talks for further seven months.

Dalga Khatinoglu is an expert on Iran's energy sector, head of Trend Agency's Iran news service. Follow him on @dalgakhatinoglu

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