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Airbus says had no role in French business visit to Iran

Flags with the new logo of aircraft manufacturer Airbus Group are seen on the entrance gate of the company's office building in Paris Januar
Flags with the new logo of aircraft manufacturer Airbus Group are seen on the entrance gate of the company's office building in Paris Januar

SINGAPORE (Reuters) - Planemaker Airbus said on Thursday it had not been part of a visit by a French business delegation to Iran this week, the most senior French trade mission to the country in years.

"Nobody from Airbus Group participated in the trip," Rainer Ohler, head of communications for the Airbus parent group, said.

A source close to the delegation had said the company had been represented in the team assembled by the main French employers' association MEDEF, comprising more than 100 executives from France's biggest firms.

The delegation on the February 2-5 trip met Mohammad Nahavandian, President Hassan Rouhani's chief of staff, and members of Iran's Chamber of Commerce, Industries, Mines and Agriculture, state news agency IRNA said.

That trip followed an interim agreement reached by Iran and six world powers in November under which Tehran agreed to limit parts of its nuclear work in return for the easing of some international sanctions.

The deal called for negotiation of a full agreement within a year. The easing of sanctions, which began in late January, has prompted Western firms to race for business opportunities even though the bulk of international sanctions remain in place.

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said on Wednesday that the United States had warned France that French companies would be punished if they violated U.S. sanctions with Iran.

French finance minister Pierre Moscovici said the visit should not be taken as a "sign of laxity, endorsement" but as "a bet on the future based both on firmness and negotiation".

France's foreign ministry said that MEDEF had organized the trade delegation on its own initiative.

(Reporting by Tim Hepher; Editing by William Maclean and Greg Mahlich)

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