German minister to visit Iran on Sunday after nuclear deal: Sources

German Vice Chancellor, Economy and Energy Minister Sigmar Gabriel addresses a press conference on Greece in Berlin on July 6, 2015. PHOTO: AFP

BERLIN (REUTERS) - German Economy Minister Sigmar Gabriel plans to fly to Iran on Sunday, industry and coalition sources told Reuters, to quickly tap the new trading opportunities from this week's historic nuclear deal between Teheran and six world powers.

Gabriel, who is also vice chancellor and leader of the Social Democrats (SPD) who share power with Chancellor Angela Merkel's conservatives, plans to take a small delegation on a three day visit, said the sources.

A spokeswoman for the ministry said a visit to Iran was being considered but she declined to say when it would happen.

"There is a great interest on the side of German industry to normalise and strengthen economic ties with Iran - even more so after the nuclear agreement with Iran," said the spokeswoman.

Under the deal, agreed after more than a decade of negotiations, United States, European Union, and United Nations (UN) sanctions will be lifted in return for Teheran imposing long-term curbs on nuclear activities which the West has suspected are aimed at making an atomic bomb. Iran says its programme is peaceful.

German companies, from Volkswagen to Siemens and thousands of smaller family-owned firms are lining up to take advantage of the Iranian market.

German industry associations said on Tuesday exports to Iran could quadruple in the next few years as a result of the deal .

The head of the BDI industry association predicted exports could jump to more than 10 billion euros in the medium term from 2.4 billion euros last year, seeing the car, chemical, healthcare and renewable energy industry as potential winners.

During the years of sanctions against Iran, German exports to Iran fell from a high of 4.4 billion euros in 2005 to 1.8 billion euros in 2013.

On a trip to Beijing, Gabriel described the deal as a"historic breakthrough", adding it was now time to talk about a change in the relationship between Iran and Israel.

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