She said the Commission, the EU's executive arm, was not aware officially of any US calls on European companies to wind up their activities in Iran as reported in the Western media.
In 1995, US President Bill Clinton prohibited any investment in Iran by American companies. In July, 1996, the US Congress passed the Iran-Libya Sanctions Act of 1996 (ILSA), which extended sanctions to cover foreign companies that made investments in Iran's oil sector in excess of $20 million.
The EU spokeswoman said that the EU and the US had reached "an understanding" in 1998 that European companies will not be targeted.
In July 2001, the US Congress extended ILSA for another five years.
At that time, the Commission had issued a statement regretting the US Congressional decision.
"As a matter both of principle and policy, the European Union has long opposed unilateral sanctions and laws with extraterritorial effects. Such laws, designed to impose US requirements on economic operators in foreign countries, threaten the open international trading system," said the Commission.
The understanding reached at the EU-US summit in London on May 18, 1998 was designed to avoid such consequences, noted the statement.
"There is no extra-territoriality about the agreement the US has with its own companies not to trade with Iran," the European Commission's spokesperson for external relations, Emma Udwin, told reporters in Brussels on Tuesday.
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