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Italy, Iran Open New Phase in Bilateral Relations

Jan. 26, 2016 (EIRNS)—Iranian President Rouhani and Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi presided over the signing of 13 memoranda for EU17 billion of contracts in steel, infrastructure projects, energy, and shipyards, yesterday in Rome. The Danieli group alone signed contracts for EU5.7 billion, three in the steel sector and one in the mining sector.

At the press conference with Renzi, Rouhani said that he had chosen Italy as first leg of his first visit to Europe after the lifting of sanctions, because "Italy has a particular importance. We have a good history of collaboration with you, and the Iranians know Italy and your work, they trust the Italians." Relations with Italy go beyond bilateral significance and can contribute to security and stability in the Middle East, Mediterranean, and North Africa regions, he said, according to IRNA.

Iran can be the hub of security, energy, human resources and development, and geopolitical importance, Rouhani said. Were it not for Iran’s pioneer role in the fight against terrorism in the region, the world would have been witnessing more difficult conditions for the people of Iraq, Syria, and Afghanistan, he stressed.

"The Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action can be an example to be followed for the settlement of regional issues," Rouhani said.

Italian Foreign Minister Paolo Gentiloni referred to the pioneering role of Italian industrialist and political leader Enrico Mattei in the relationships with Iran. It was Iran in 1957 to sign the first oil deal of a producing country with a company not belonging to the "seven sisters" oil cartel, namely with Mattei’s ENI. Mattei launched the competitive formula 25/75, whereby Iran would get 75% and ENI 25% of profits, against the 50/50 formula imposed by the Anglo-Dutch-French cartel.

Mattei’s dream "has become reality," Gentiloni said. A reality made up of "close political dialogue" and economic collaboration. Gentiloni quoted Mattei: "When we started our activities in Iran, we were dreamers."

At the Italy-Iran Business Forum, Rouhani said that, similarly to the nuclear deal, "we must start a win-win collaboration in the economy; in the current regional condition, Iran is the most secure and stable country in the entire region."

Also, Iran is the most tolerant in religious matters, he said. The Quran teaches that "the church, the synagogue and the mosque [should stay] one beside the other" or better, "we must first preserve the church, then the synagogue, then the mosque."

Rouhani was accompanied by a delegation of 6 ministers and 120 businessmen. At the Forum, there was a closed-door session in which businessmen of both sides discussed, face-to-face, opportunities in four strategic sectors: industry, infrastructure, oil/gas, and food.

Before sanctions, bilateral trade between Italy and Iran stood at EU7 billion. Now it has dropped to EU1.5 billion, said the head of Italian business association Confindustria, Giorgio Squinzi; we must go back to the past levels and beyond. On February 8-10, a mission with 130 Italian businessmen, led by the ministers for infrastructure and agriculture, will be in Tehran.

Today, Rouhani met the Pope. The 40-minute discussion centered on the Middle East. Rouani gave the Pope a hand-made carpet from Qom and a volume of miniatures; the Pope gave him an icon of St. Martin and (the bad news), his encyclical Laudato Si’. The good news: since there is no edition in Farsi, he had to give him a copy in English and one in Arabic.

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