China's Huawei cuts back in Iran
Beijing - Chinese telecommunications equipment maker Huawei Technologies says it will cut back its business in Iran, where it aids state-run telecom operators, due to the "increasingly complex situation" there.
Iran keeps close tabs on its citizens, aided by imported technology, and faces rising Western sanctions over its nuclear programme and the treatment of its people since the state crushed protests over a contested 2009 vote.
Huawei will "voluntarily restrict its business development" in Iran "by no longer seeking new customers and limiting its business activities with existing customers," the Shenzhen-based company said on its website.
"For communications networks that have been delivered or are under delivery to customers, Huawei will continue to provide necessary services to ensure communications for Iran's citizens," the statement said.
In November, responding to what it called biased reporting, Huawei said that "we have never been involved in and do not provide any services relating to monitoring or filtering technologies anywhere in the world".
Also last month, the United States announced fresh sanctions against Iran's energy industry and warned firms against dealing with the Islamic republic's financial sector, naming the country "a primary money laundering concern".
The scaling back of Huawei's business in Iran follows a statement in February by the company's deputy chairman stating a desire to crack the lucrative US telecoms market.
In the aftermath of a bid to buy a US startup that failed over concerns about Huawei's ties to Beijing, Ken Hu said: "Huawei has been striving to demonstrate our capabilities with a view to becoming a key contributor in this important market" - the US.
Huawei's US revenues in 2010 were $765m, up from $319m in 2009 and $51m in 2006, a company fact sheet sent to AFP showed.
A Huawei spokesperson reached by telephone declined to offer AFP details about the timing or reasoning behind the company's cutbacks in Iran.
China and Iran have recently become closer economic partners as Chinese companies fill a void left by the withdrawal of Western companies observing sanctions that Beijing has said will "exacerbate" the situation there.