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Nuclear deal shows value of engagement with Iran, says UK envoy

London, Nov 18, IRNA - The agreement on Iran's nuclear program is "an excellent platform for step change" in the country's relations with the European Union, said British Ambassador Richard Dalton in London on Wednesday.

"The value of the policy of engagement has been shown by the agreement," Dalton also said at the opening of a conference in London on 'Fuelling Economic Growth in Iran.'

He told nearly 300 British and Iranian business delegates at the conference, it was a "good moment" for both countries to set out their hopes for a trading and investment relationship.

"The opportunities (in Iran) for British business are many and go well beyond getting oil and gas out of the ground," the British envoy said.

He described Iran as a "tasty raisin" that offered a fine set of vantages for those wishing to carry out trade. But quoting a Persian proverb as saying he said there was also a "stick on its back."

"First Iran is not an east economy to break into. It requires patience, time and commitment. If you are prepared to invest in a market that has major potential now and massive potential for the future, Iran is where you should invest," he said.

He also said that the economic reform program had "some considerable way to go" but added that he commended the '20-year vision' approved by Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Seyed Ali Khamenei.

"The exchange rate is sensible but the inflation rate is too high. The government has taken steps to liberalize and privatize the economy, and to accommodate FDI, but the vast majority of the economy is still government owned."

He said that the authorities were "more business-friendly than they were, but it doesn't always feel that the economic policy is heading way forward."

With regard to the nuclear deal, Dalton said: "Now the hard part starts, crafting a long-term agreement to provide objective guarantees that Iran's programs are for exclusively peaceful purposes.

But, he said, although political relations with the UK were better than before, "they are still difficult."

He referred to there being a "political risk" in doing business with Iran but said there was "money to be made."

"British business should not take fright, but be aware of the risk.

During the one-day conference, case studies were presented by British American Tobacco and Rio Tinto Mining as among the success stories.

Dalton said that a lot of British businesses had "discovered" Iran, including energy majors.

Others in this league, he said, were moving.

He said there were also "scores of smaller companies," who were exporting British goods and expertise and contributing to Iranian development.

... Payvand News - 11/18/04 ... --

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