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Iran eyes Asian, Swiss banks for sanctions-free trade

Published on Jan 29, 2014 12:06 AM

TEHERAN (AFP) - Iran wants to use Japanese, South Korean and Swiss banks to handle international trade exempted from Western sanctions under a landmark nuclear deal clinched last November.

Intensifying US sanctions since 2008, mirrored by the European Union in 2012, had effectively shut Iran out of the international banking system, making all foreign trade difficult. But under the November agreement, which went into effect last week, major powers agreed Iran could set up a financial channel to pay for the import of goods already exempt from Western sanctions.

The same designated banks will be used to handle income Iran receives from the partial easing of EU and US sanctions over the next six months in return for its scaling back of its controversial nuclear programme.

"Under the Geneva agreement, a banking mechanism is to be designated by the United States and Western countries for purchases of food products, medicines and medical equipment," said Mr Abbas Araqchi, one of Iran's top negotiators. "Banks from Japan, South Korea and Switzerland have been selected." He did not name the banks.

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