Iran General NewsIran pressures firm over Coca-Cola links

Iran pressures firm over Coca-Cola links

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ImageAFP: The Iranian government has called on a soft drink producer to clarify its links with the US company Coca-Cola following a decision to boycott "Zionist" products, a press report said on Monday.

ImageTEHRAN (AFP) — The Iranian government has called on a soft drink producer to clarify its links with the US company Coca-Cola following a decision to boycott "Zionist" products, a press report said on Monday.

"The industry minister (Ali Akbar Mehrabian) has set a timeframe for Khoshgovar company to clarify its ties with the Zionist company Coca-Cola," hardline daily Kayhan said.

Following the Israeli offensive on Gaza, the Tehran government decided to boycott products of companies suspected of having ties with Israel.

Iranian company Khoshgovar currently operates under licence, producing soft drinks such as Coca-Cola, Fanta and Sprite.

According to Kayhan, it pays 15 billion rials (about 1.5 million dollars) a year to Coca-Cola for using the brand and buys the flavour essence from an Irish affiliate of the US company.

Khoshgovar directors have denied all direct ties with Coca-Cola.

"We have always bought the essence of our carbonated drinks in Ireland and we have no links with the American company Coca-Cola and we never will," company executive Mehdi Sayadian said in the Donyaie Eghtesad economic daily.

Iran is a major soft drink consumer with a range of home-grown products such as Zam Zam, which is sweeter than Coke.

The authorities have not yet released names of targeted companies, but Islamist groups and several media have cited brands such as Benetton, Nestle and Coca-Cola.

A Benetton store in uptown Tehran was torched in late December and several others temporarily closed amid angry protests against the Israeli offensive in the Gaza Strip.

Islamists have also held several protests outside a Nestle plant.

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