Iran sees foreign firms returning if U.S. lifts sanctions

·1-min read
FILE PHOTO: An Iranian flag flutters in front of the UN headquarters in Vienna

DUBAI (Reuters) - Iran expects foreign companies to return to the country if U.S. sanctions are lifted under President-elect Joe Biden and some firms have made initial contacts already, Iranian government spokesman Ali Rabiei said on Tuesday.

Major foreign companies left Iran after U.S. President Donald Trump two years ago abandoned Iran's 2015 nuclear deal with world powers and restored economic sanctions.

Washington has since blacklisted dozens of foreign companies accused of cooperating with Iran.

"Recently, contacts about opening offices and the presence of foreign companies in Iran have increased," Rabiei told a news conference that was streamed live on a government website.

Rabiei said companies which did not leave Iran despite sanctions could be given more opportunities in the future. He did not name any of the firms.

"Some are considering reopening offices, but some companies... never closed down completely. These companies will definitely have more opportunities to operate," Rabiei said.

"...Certainly, with the... lifting of the oppressive sanctions and the absence of Trump, the presence of foreign companies and a willingness to invest in Iran will increase."

Biden has pledged to rejoin the 2015 accord, agreed by Washington when he was vice president, if Iran also returns to compliance.

But diplomats and analysts have said this was unlikely to happen overnight as the distrustful adversaries would both want additional commitments.

(Reporting by Dubai newsroom; Editing by Nick Macfie)