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Italy PM Matteo Renzi to visit Iran next week

Matteo Renzi, Prime Minister of Italy, arrives for a working dinner at the White House March 31, 2016 in Washington, DC. World leaders are gathering for a two-day conference that will address a range of issues including ongoing efforts to prevent terrorist groups from accessing nuclear material.  / AFP / Olivier Douliery

Matteo Renzi, Prime Minister of Italy, arrives for a working dinner at the White House March 31, 2016 in Washington, DC.<br />World leaders are gathering for a two-day conference that will address a range of issues including ongoing efforts to prevent terrorist groups from accessing nuclear material. / AFP / Olivier Douliery

Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi will travel to Iran next week for a two-day trip that will make him the first major international figure to visit since the lifting of sanctions against Tehran.

Renzi’s office said in a statement Monday that the centre-left leader would visit the Islamic Republic on April 12-13, without giving further details of his itinerary.

Italy has led the way amongst European countries in re-establishing economic ties to Iran following the lifting of international sanctions imposed over concerns the country was seeking to develop a nuclear weapons capacity.

An accord to lift the sanctions was agreed last year and came into force in January.

Renzi’s trip follows Iranian President Hassan Rouhani’s visit to Italy and France at the end of January — a trip which resulted in a string of major trade and investment deals being signed between Tehran and the two European countries.

Contracts worth an estimated 17 billion euros ($18 billion) were signed in Rome and Rouhani said he hoped that would represent only a start, as he pitched Iran as a safe base for investors looking to get into a regional market of 300 million consumers.

Iran has said it wants European help to modernise and expand its rail, road and air networks as well as seeking investment to boost its manufacturing base, notably in the automobile sector.

Italy was Iran’s largest European trade partner before the impact of sanctions caused exchanges between the two countries to collapse.



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