President Hassan Rouhani (R) receives Italian PM Matteo Renzi (L) at the Sa’adabad Complex in Tehran, April 12, 2016.
’s Prime Minister Matteo Renzi is in Iran
for a two-day visit at the head of a large delegation to upgrade relations which have been warming following a nuclear agreement with Tehran.
Renzi arrived in Tehran early Tuesday with a 250-strong political and economic delegation, making him the first Italian official in such capacity to travel to the Islamic Republic since 2001.
Iran’s Minister of Industry, Mines, and Trade Mohammad Reza Nematzadeh received him at the airport before heading to northern Tehran where Renzi was accorded an official welcome by President Hassan Rouhani.
Italian foreign minister, minister of infrastructures and transports, minister of economic development, and minister of agriculture, food and forestry policies as well as businessmen and personalities from Italy’s public and private sectors are accompanying Renzi in the visit.
The Italian premier has described his visit to Iran as a political “investment,” saying friendship with Tehran could contribute to the fight against Daesh, which has staged deadly attacks across Europe
President Rouhani visited Italy in January for two days during which the two countries signed deals worth up to 17 billion euros ($18.42 billion). Renzi said then that business agreements Italy signed with Iran were “just the beginning” for the two countries.
Rouhani headed a 120-strong delegation of business leaders and ministers, signing a pipeline contract worth between $4 billion and $5 billion for oil services group Saipem.
Italian steel firm Danieli signed up to 5.7 billion euros in contracts while business for infrastructure firm Condotte d’Acqua inked up to 4 billion euros.
The two countries further signed an agreement to expand and modernize Iran’s rail network, under which Italy will provide Iran’s RAI railway company with 5 billion euros ($5.65 billion) in export credits.
Italy was one of Iran’s leading economic and trade partners before sanctions when annual exchanges amounted to 7 billion euros compared with $1.6 billion euros now.
Italian Deputy Economic Development Minister Carlo Calenda led a large trade delegation to Tehran in November, representing 178 companies, 20 business associations and 12 banking groups.
European governments have scrambled to renew business ties with Iran since the EU, the US, China, and Russia reached the nuclear agreement with Tehran in July last year.
On Monday, however, the European Union extended its sanctions against 82 Iranian individuals, whom it accuses of human rights violations.