Total will return to Iran if sanctions lifted

French energy giant Total will return to Iran, if international sanctions are lifted on petroleum exports, chief executive Christophe de Margerie said at an industry conference here on Tuesday.

Questioned by reporters about whether the company would return to the Islamic republic, should sanctions be lifted, de Margerie replied: "Of course".

The Total chief spoke at the Oil & Money conference, a key industry event which is held each year in the British capital.

His comments followed a recent thawing in US-Iran relations, which could possibly lead to an easing of Western sanctions on the OPEC crude producer and allow it to export oil more freely.

"Why, if Iran is back in the (international) community should we decide just ourselves that they are banned?" de Margerie told reporters.

"Today there is an embargo. This embargo is valid for everybody and we will wait for this embargo to be lifted."

De Margerie hoped that this would happen "as soon as possible".

He added: "Of course we will have to discuss the contractual terms.

"Just like any other country it will be just based on 'is it a win-win between them and us'.

"We like to be a long-term partner and we have long-term vision when we are doing long-term deals."

Iran's economy has been crippled by a series of UN and US sanctions aimed at bringing an end to its nuclear programme, which the West claims is being used to develop nuclear weapons. Iran denies the assertion.

On Friday, US President Barack Obama and Iran's President Hassan Rouhani spoke by phone in the first direct contact between leaders of their estranged nations since the 1979 Islamic revolution.

The two men spoke about ongoing efforts to reach an agreement over Iran's nuclear programme.