Iranian President Mr. Hassan Rouhani visited Italy and France from January 26 to 30, 2016 on his first official visits to both countries. Iran is emerging from the shadows after 12 years of international trade sanctions. It is 16 years since an Iranian president last made a state visit to Europe, and as
Iran returned to the international stage after more than a decade of sanctions, there was huge anticipation both at home and abroad about the potential changes to come. Mr. Rouhani met Pope Francis in the Vatican and talked about problems afflicting the Middle East. Mr. Rouhani also met the Italian Prime Minister, Mr. Matteo Renzi. During Mr. Rouhani’s visit, Italy and Iran signed 17 billion euros worth of business deals. The Italian deals cover areas including energy, infrastructure, steel, shipbuilding and aviation. There was a 3.7-billion euro contract for oil services group Saipem, up to 5.7 billion euros in contracts for steel firm Danieli, up to 4 billion euros of business for infrastructure firm Condotte d’Acqua, 4 billion euros for rail and road company Gavio and 400 million euros for planes from Finmeccanica. Europe was Iran’s largest trading partner before the sanctions and Italy was second only after Germany, with seven billion euros in trade, falling to 1.5 billion euros after the sanctions. Italy hopes to rebuild that to three billion in exports alone by 2018. Mr. Rouhani talked up his country as a regional trade hub and pillar of stability saying that generating economic growth and jobs in the Middle East were crucial to defeating extremism.
Iranian President Mr. Rouhani reached France on January 28, 2016, starting with investments to boost Iran’s flagging economy that had been crippled by decades of sanctions. French President Mr. Francois Hollande said in a joint news conference following a meeting with Mr. Rouhani at the Elysee Palace that he wanted the relationship to be useful to both countries and useful to the Middle East region affected by wars, crises and tragedies. Mr. Hollande added that he raised the issue of human rights and freedom during the meeting. Mr. Rouhani said during the joint conference that they must help the Syrian people so that they could build a sustainable future for the country. A total of 20 agreements were signed after Mr.’ Rouhani’s meeting with Mr. Hollande. Iran Air signed a deal to buy .118 aircraft from Airbus, valued at 22.8 billion euros ($25 billion). Iran Air and Airbus signed an agreement for the acquisition of the full range of new Airbus airliners (73 wide-bodied and 45 single aisles). This includes pilot and maintenance training and support services to help the entry into service and efficient operations of these new aircraft. A comprehensive co-operation agreement to modernise the civil aviation sector of Iran was inked. The agreement was signed to support the development of Air Navigation Services, airport and aircraft operations,
French President Mr. Francois FLollande
with Iranian President Mr. Hassan
Pouhani during the latter’s visit to France
on January 28, 2016.
regulatory harmonisation, technical and academic training, maintenance, repair and industrial cooperation. PSA Peugeot Citroen also announced a joint venture with Iran Khodro to produce latest- generation vehicles in Tehran by the end of 2017. French and Iranian companies also signed agreements in the sectors of health and agriculture. Oil and gas company Total inked a deal with the National Iranian Oil Company to purchase crude oil.
Mr. Rouhani had originally been due to visit Europe in November 2015, but cancelled the trip after an Islamic State attack on Paris, which killed 130 people. Many Western nations have accused Iran of funding various militant groups, and despite a landmark nuclear deal between the world powers and Tehran in 2015, the United States is keeping some of its financial sanctions in place because of the alleged links and human rights abuses.