Reversal of Fortunes for Iran, Europe

Reversal of Fortunes for Iran, EuropeReversal of Fortunes for Iran, Europe

President Hassan Rouhani said Iran and the European Union experienced "lose-lose" economic ties during sanctions and the EU suffered the biggest loss, as Iran had no business relations with the US even in the pre-sanctions era and its commercial cooperation with Russia and China never came to a halt.

Rouhani made the statement in a press conference in Rome on Wednesday at the end of a three-day visit to Italy where he met with top officials, including Prime Minister Matteo Renzi, reported.

Describing the achievements of his trip, Rouhani said, "Both Iran and Italy, even the EU, will soon reap the benefits of this trip. Plans have been made to implement joint economic ventures that are not limited to Iran and Italy, as they will affect the whole region."

According to the president, Tehran and Rome enjoyed strong economic ties in the past and Iranians have vivid memories about cooperating with Italian entrepreneurs, for which grounds have been paved to expand relations.

Rouhani referred to his meeting with Pope Francis at the Vatican and said fighting extremism and restoring peace to the world are pursued by the followers of all divine religions.

"Freedom of speech has nothing to do with violating other people's rights or interfering with their religious thoughts, as such unethical practices will not only breed violence but also widen the gap among communities," he said.

Asked about the prospect of Iran's relations with the West, the president noted that there is a promising future in this regard, as the implementation of the historic nuclear deal clinched between Iran and P5+1 (the five permanent members of the UN Security Council plus Germany) has resulted in creating a suitable atmosphere for expanding bilateral collaborations.

Stressing the fact that Iran is not just looking for a business partner, he said, "What we are calling for is joint investment and technology transfer to Iran. In addition, entering international markets to export our commodities top our list of priorities."

Commenting on Tehran-Riyadh relations, Rouhani added, "Iran has always called for peaceful relations with Saudis, but as they did not achieve their goals in the region after killing thousands of innocent civilians in Yemen, they have resorted to a series of unethical practices to conceal their failures."

On economic ties with US businesses, he said, "American economic players are welcome to invest in Iran. The US officials should accept that Middle East tensions cannot be settled without Iran's presence."

The president wrapped up his visit to Italy on Wednesday before heading to France on the second leg of a trip signaling the dramatic rapprochement between Tehran and the European powers since the lifting of sanctions against Iran.

Rouhani's visit to Paris is expected to result in the signing of important business contracts, after sealing multibillion-bollar deals in Italy.