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German trade body urges speedy revival of Iran ties

BERLIN (Reuters) - German companies should revive economic ties with Iran as quickly as possible following the expected lifting of economic sanctions, Germany's Chambers of Commerce and Industry (DIHK) said on Friday.

"After an ice age of more than 10 years, an important barrier is falling," its head of foreign trade, Volker Dreier, said in a statement.

Iran expects the United Nations nuclear watchdog to confirm on Friday that the country has curtailed its nuclear programme, paving the way for the unfreezing of billions of dollars of assets and an end to bans that have crippled its oil exports.

Germany was for decades Iran's biggest trading partner before sanctions were imposed. The gap in Iranian imports from Germany and other western countries has largely been filled by Chinese, Korean and Middle Eastern competitors.

"German companies have lost important market share in Iran. We must revive German-Iranian ties as quickly as possible," Dreier said.

The DIHK believes German exports to Iran could double to 5 billion euros (£3.83 billion) in the medium term, and reach twice that figure in the long term.

(Reporting by Gernot Heller; Writing by Joseph Nasr and Georgina Prodhan; Editing by Catherine Evans)