Volkswagen rejects Trump envoy’s stand on Iran pullout

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Volkswagen AG rejected on Thursday a report echoing it had decided against doing business in Iran after coming under pressure from Donald Trump’s ambassador to Germany, saying its stance on the country had not changed.

U.S. sanctions against Iran, introduced by President Trump following his decision to pull the United States out of the Iran nuclear deal, have forced companies in Germany and throughout Europe to reconsider their investments there.

Ambassador Richard Grenell has appeared to take credit for this move in a series of tweets and interviews during the last weeks, declaring the withdrawal of German blue chips such as Siemens and now Volkswagen, to the surprise of the firms themselves.

A Bloomberg News story on Thursday, quoting Grenell, stated he had led discussions with Volkswagen during the past weeks, hammering out the final data of its new Iran stance on Tuesday.

However, a company source stated there had been no discussions with Grenell on Iran. And a VW spokesman informed Reuters that the company’s stance had not changed in recent weeks.

Discussed about the VW response, U.S. embassy spokeswoman Christina Higgins stated: “The U.S. ambassador has been speaking for quite some time to CEOs and industry leaders urging that they comply with U.S. sanctions.”

Volkswagen has no significant investments in Iran, although it had been thinking about establishing a sales network for imported vehicles. Its Spanish division Seat declared last year that it had abandoned exploratory strategies to enter Iran.

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