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EU firms will make their own call on Iran business - Macron

Reuters  |  SOFIA 

By Baczynska

(Reuters) - French said on Thursday would try to protect its companies doing business with from U.S. sanctions, reimposed over Tehran's nuclear programme, but said giants like Total would make their own choices.

Macron's spoke as the world's largest container shipping firm, A.P. Moller-Maersk, followed the French in saying it would quit Iran, denting EU efforts to save the nuclear accord with and protect European companies doing business with the Islamic Republic.

"International companies with interests in many countries make their own choices according to their own interests. They should continue to have this freedom," he said on arriving for a second day of EU leaders' talks in the Bulgarian capital.

"But what is important is that companies, and especially medium-sized companies which are perhaps less exposed to other markets, American or others, can make this choice freely."

The EU wants to salvage the nuclear deal, which offers the Islamic Republic relief from economic sanctions in exchange for curbs on its nuclear programme and sees as an important element of international security.

However, EU officials say there is no easy way to protect EU firms from U.S. sanctions and that it will take time for the bloc to devise what will likely be a complex mix of national and EU-level measures.

Ignoring European support for the nuclear pact, U.S. branded the agreement as "the worst deal ever" and announced on May 8 the was pulling out.

SHIPPING FIRM TO WEIGH ANCHOR IN IRAN

Total on Wednesday said it might quit a unless it secured a waiver from U.S. sanctions. had repeatedly hailed the project as a symbol of the nuclear accord's success.

told on Thursday that was following suit.

"With the sanctions the Americans are to impose, you can't do business in if you also have business in the U.S., and we have that on a large scale," Skou told in an interview following the firm's first-quarter report.

"I don't know the exact timing details, but I am certain that we're also going to shut down (in Iran)," Skou said.

Finnish company said U.S. sanctions would slow down and complicate its ties with Iran but it was too early to say if it would leave.

Macron, voicing understanding for big companies anxious to protect their U.S. sales, said backed proposals by the to protect and compensate European companies that might be hit by U.S. sanctions for trading with Iran.

They are all but certain to fall short of the type of firm guarantees that the Iranian authorities have been seeking.

has said Iran would remain committed to the deal, which China, Russia, Britain, and also signed, provided those powers ensured Iran was protected from sanctions.

(Additional reporting by and in Brussels; Editing by Jon Boyle)

(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

First Published: Thu, May 17 2018. 16:19 IST
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