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    Iranian President Hassan Rouhani waves during a news conference in Tehran, Iran January 17, 2016.

    Coming in From the Cold: Rouhani in Europe to Discuss Post-Sanctions Iran

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    One week after the lifting of Western sanctions brought Iran back into the global world of commerce, President Hassan Rouhani is in Europe for the country’s first state visit in nearly two decades, with talks set to focus on the potential economic and political impact for Iran.

    Rouhani will lead a delegation of more than 120 people, including other government ministers, business figures and entrepreneurs in his visit to France and Italy, as Iran looks to capitalize on the thawing of relations between Tehran and the West.

    The trip will consist of meetings with Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi and French President Francois Hollande, as European nations look to build trade deals with Iran, while Rouhani will also meet with Pope Francis in the Vatican.

    Following the Iran nuclear deal, which led to the reduction of sanctions, experts have predicted that Western trade with Tehran could rise from current annual levels of around US$8.2 billion to pre-sanction levels of US$30 billion, which would see a range of international products and services enter the country.

    Additionally, Iranian products and resources, such as the country’s oil, would also become available for purchase globally.

    Although officials have played down the chance of signing any trade deals during this week’s trip, reports have suggested that European companies are close to deals that would provide aircraft and cars to the Middle Eastern country.

    While much speculation has surrounded the investment opportunities associated with the opening up of Iran’s market of 80 million people, Rouhani has warned that the country faces a "long road" before it becomes completely integrated with the rest of the world.

    Political Impacts: Syria and Human Rights

    The trip will not only consist of economic discussion, with the West’s improved relations with Iran also set to give Tehran a greater voice in international diplomacy and other political issues.

    Iran President Hassan Rouhani (L) walks next to the Italian President Sergio Mattarella (unseen) at the Quirinale presidential palace in Rome, Italy, January 25, 2016.
    © REUTERS / Tony Gentile
    Iran President Hassan Rouhani (L) walks next to the Italian President Sergio Mattarella (unseen) at the Quirinale presidential palace in Rome, Italy, January 25, 2016.

    The conflict in Syria is set to be discussed during the week, as the international community attempts to meet for discussions aimed at ending the four-year long five-year long civil war in Syria.

    Iran, which is allied to Russia and the Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, has called for the fight against jihadist groups like Daesh to be given top priority, amid Western insistence that Assad should step aside in a post-war Syria.

    At present, Western officials have not come to an agreement with Assad and his allies about what groups should and shouldn’t take part in the country’s peace process negotiations.

    Rouhani’s meeting with Pope Francis is also expected to address a number of issues including the plight of Christians in the Middle East and human rights concerns.

    Pope Francis was among those openly supportive of the nuclear deal between Iran and the P5+1 group of world powers, intervening to warn the US congress against sabotaging the agreement.

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    Tags:
    Oil, international affairs, Iran Nuclear Deal, trade deal, nuclear deal, investment, human rights, trade, sanctions, Hasan Rouhani, Pope Francis, Tehran, Iran, Europe, Syria, Russia
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