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French automaker starts joint venture to build Citroen cars in Iran

French automaker Peugeot-Citroen (PSA) has signed a multi-million euro deal to build and sell Citroen cars in Iran. The preliminary agreement is the automaker's latest biggest step in its return to the Iranian market.

Peugeot-Citroen (PSA) signed off on a preliminary agreement to invest over 300 million euros ($330 million) to manufacture and sell the company's Citroen cars in Iran, the French automaker announced on Thursday.

"Our aim is to provide our Iranian customers with modern vehicles that meet the highest comfort, safety and technology standards," PSA chief executive Carlos Tavares said in a statement.

The joint venture with SAIPA, the carmaker's partner in Iran prior to sanctions imposed on the country, will grant each company a 50 percent stake. PSA will manufacture the cars at a plant in Kashan, south of the capital Tehran, and hopes to have the first batch of Citroens finished by 2018.

The SAIPA and PSA venture aims to build 150,000 cars per year in five years' time and will include three Citroen models which have been specifically designed for the Iranian market, PSA said.

The preliminary agreement follows a deal PSA made last month with its old partner Khodro. The 400 million euro agreement would see the partners build 200,000 Peugeot vehicles per year by 2018.

PSA was one of the first Western carmakers to announce a return to the country when numerous economic sanctions against Iran were lifted in January, following a landmark nuclear deal with world leaders.

rs/gsw (AFP, dpa)

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