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Iranian President Signs Business Deals In Rome

Source: RFE/RL

Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi has said after meeting in Rome with Iranian President Hassan Rohani that a series of business agreements they signed is "just the beginning" for their countries. Deals being signed during Rohani's 48-hour stay in Italy are valued at up to 17 billion euros ($18.4 billion).

Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi (center) welcomes Iranian President Hassan Rohani in Rome on January 25.

Rohani arrived in Rome earlier on January 25 for his first state visit to Europe, and the first by an Iranian president in almost two decades.

He is looking for foreign investments following the lifting of international sanctions against Iran on January 16 under its nuclear accord with world powers.

The trip originally was planned for November but was postponed following the terrorist attacks by Islamic State militants in Paris on November 13.

Rohani is scheduled to meet with Pope Francis at the Vatican on January 27 before traveling on to Paris for talks with French President Francois Hollande on January 28.

Iranian President Hassan Rohani and Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi attend the signing ceremony of contracts between the two countries in the Italian capital Rome, January 25, 2016.
(photo by Islamic Republic News Agency)

Easing Sanctions

The Iranian president is being accompanied by Iranian entrepreneurs as well as the oil and gas minister and other government officials during the five-day visit to Rome and Paris.

Iran is emerging from international isolation after the easing of economic sanctions under the nuclear deal.

The move opens the door for Tehran to reach deals with companies in Europe and Asia.

"This is a very important visit," an Iranian official was quoted as saying. "It's time to turn the page and open the door to cooperation between our countries in different areas."

"Trust needs to be built. It's like love. It is only the proof of love that counts," said a French diplomat.

Ahead of the trip, Iranian officials said Tehran plans to buy 114 aircraft from the French-based Airbus consortium.

Transport Minister Abbas Akhoondi told journalists on January 24 that Tehran would discuss details with Airbus this week.

Tehran has long said it will need to revamp an aging fleet, hit by a shortage of parts.

The Iranian president has said Iran needs up to $50 billion a year in foreign investment to meet its economic growth target of 8 percent.

With reporting by Reuters, AP, AFP, and Bloomberg

Copyright (c) 2016 RFE/RL, Inc. Reprinted with the permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 1201 Connecticut Ave., N.W. Washington DC 20036.

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