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Iran to withdraw money from EU
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Iran's Deputy Foreign Minister Mahdi Safari has said Iran would withdraw money from European Union (EU) countries and invest in other regions in response to EU sanctions against Iran.

In an interview published by the Austrian newspaper Die Presse Wednesday, Safari pointed out that the EU's sanctions against Iran would lead to serious consequences, namely Iran withdrawing money from EU countries.

He believed that once "more than 100 billion US dollars" were withdrawn from European banks, it would certainly lead to a money shortage on the continent, which would have an impact on the global economy.

The EU would suffer a "loss" if it took part in implementing sanctions against Iran, said Safari, because Iran has "gas and oil resources that everyone wants to buy."

He also mentioned that Iran is enhancing trade with Asian countries. During the past three years, Iran's overseas trade with Asian countries has reached 85 billion dollars, surpassing the 50 to 60 billion dollars with western nations.

The Iranian official however did not shut the door for talks with western countries, including the United States. Iran was ready for negotiations without any preconditions, he said.

"We can talk about the fight against terrorism or organized crimes; we can talk about energy issues; we can talk about the comprehensive settlement of the nuclear issues," he said during the interview.

On the issue of its relationship with Israel, Safari reiterated Iran's stance of "never recognizing Israel as a state". He also said that if Israel attacked Iran, Iran would offer an "appropriate answe"r.

The EU Council of Ministers agreed on Monday to impose further sanctions against Iran, including freezing the assets of Iran's financial institutions and a travel ban on high-level experts dealing with Iran's nuclear program.

The sanctions formally came into force on Tuesday. Iran's Foreign Affairs Ministry "strongly condemned" the move.

(Xinhua News Agency June 26, 2008)

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