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Glencore is latest firm talking with Iran over future oil business

(Updates with location of visit and participants)

LONDON, July 2 (Reuters) - Global mining and commodity trading firm Glencore (Xetra: A1JAGV - news) met with Iranian officials in Tehran to discuss possible business deals should economic sanctions be lifted, industry sources said on Thursday.

Iran is negotiating with the United States and five other big powers - Britain, China, France, Germany and Russia - a deal under which Tehran would curtail its nuclear programme in exchange for relief from sanctions.

"Exploratory talks took place around potential business opportunities subject to the removal of the relevant sanctions," the spokesman for Glencore said on Thursday.

An industry source said that Glencore's head of oil, Alex Beard (Other OTC: BRCOQ - news) , led a small team which met with Iranian officials to discuss potential oil deals.

Royal Dutch Shell (Xetra: R6C1.DE - news) held similar discussions in Tehran last month. Other companies are also understood to be in discussions with Iran, but Glencore is the first commodities trader confirmed to have visited Tehran close to the deadline for a nuclear deal.

Western sanctions have cut Iran's oil exports by more than half to around 1.1 million barrels per day from a pre-2012 level of 2.5 million bpd, with the loss of oil income making it difficult to invest in new development and pay for the equipment and services needed to keep its production operating smoothly. (Reporting by Silvia Antonioli and Libby George; Editing by Greg Mahlich)