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Iran Lures Potential Investors Anticipating Nuclear Deal Ending

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On a May afternoon in Tehran, a Russian in a dark suit sits in the crowded lobby cafe of the Espinas Persian Gulf International Hotel with his Farsi translator, sipping coffee with potential Iranian partners while discussing the price of soy fiber. No sooner do they vacate their armchairs than another group of besuited businessmen takes their place, this time conversing in Italian and Farsi about industrial motors.

The Espinas, one of Tehran’s few luxury hotels, opened in 2009, just as successive rounds of sanctions over Iran’s nuclear program were drawing an ever-tighter noose around the economy. With the restrictions biting, the Espinas’s lobby, adorned with pink-granite columns and faux Achaemenid sculptures, emptied out.