Jan 28, 2016, 12:57 PM
News Code: 81939272
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Rouhani in Paris to strengthen diplomatic, commercial ties

Tehran, Jan 28, IRNA - Iranian President Hassan Rouhani arrived in Paris on Wednesday and met business leaders and government ministers. During his visit Rouhani is expected to sign a number of commercial deals.

According to France 24, after arriving in Paris, Rohani and Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif met with French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius and Economy Minister Emmanuel Macron before hosting leaders of France's business community at Rouhani's Paris hotel.

The visit, the first to France by an Iranian president since 1999, is the second leg of a trip signaling Tehran's rapprochement with Europe after sanctions were lifted against the Islamic Republic.

Rouhani flew in from Italy, where he sealed industrial deals worth between 15-17 billion euros ($18.5 billion).

Even before he touched down in France, the Iranian transport minister commented about the purchase of 114 passenger planes from Airbus.

Rouhani will also ink a deal marking the return of French carmaker Peugeot to Iran, in partnership with Iranian manufacturer Iran Khodro, according to a French government source.

Peugeot will produce 200,000 vehicles a year beginning in 2017.

When Peugeot pulled out of Iran in 2012 under the weight of the Western sanctions over the country's nuclear program, it was the car-maker's second biggest market after France.

In another potential business bonanza, French oil giant Total is said to be interested in buying Iranian crude.

Rouhani will have talks with President François Hollande and they will hold a joint press conference which is expected to touch on Iran's bitter feud with Saudi Arabia.

The visit had originally been scheduled to take place after the November 13 terrorists attacks on Paris, but was postponed.

The Iranian leader met with his Italian counterpart Sergio Mattarella and Prime Minister Matteo Renzi, with whom he oversaw the signing of several economic agreements in the prestigious setting of the Campidoglio, or City Hall.

Iranian Transport Minister Abbas Akhoundi said Sunday that Tehran would sign a deal 'between Iran Air and Airbus' when Rouhani is in Paris.

Rouhani himself said: 'We need to modernize our aviation fleet and buy locomotives.'

Iran has been rebuilding its relations with Italy and France, which were among Tehran's main economic partners before the tightening of international sanctions in January 2012.

Concurrent with Rouhani's visit to France Iran's cultural week was officially inaugurated along with an Iranian handicraft exhibition in Paris today, Deputy Head of Cultural Heritage, Handicrafts and Tourism Organization (ICHTO) Bahman Namvar Motlagh told MNA.

The event which is organized in collaboration with Iranian Embassy in Paris, will hold various programs during Iran's cultural week. This is the first time a political visit has been entwined with culture.

A number of paintings of Iran's historical sites and monuments will also be put on display.