Italy, Iran to discuss bilateral relations

Tehran, Dec 22: Italian Foreign Minister Emma Bonino arrived here Saturday to hold talks on commercial ties between the two nations.

Bonino’s visit, the first by an Italian official to Tehran since 2004, follows a deal between Iran and six world powers on curbing some of its nuclear activities in exchange for partial sanctions relief, Xinhua reported.

She has hailed the deal as “the first essential step toward the reconstruction of a climate of indispensable confidence to reassure the international community”.

During her two-day visit to Tehran, Bonino will hold talks with a number of Iranian officials on bilateral ties and regional and international issues.

On Saturday, the visiting minister was scheduled to meet Iranian vice president for environmental affairs, Masoumeh Ebtekar, and the vice president for women affairs, Shahindokht Molaverdi.

On Sunday, she will meet her counterpart Mohammad-Javad Zarif, and will partake in a joint press conference with him.

“A new chapter has opened in the relations between two countries,” said Iranian ambassador to Italy Jahanbakhsh Mozaffari.

Italy can swiftly gain its position as Iran’s first commercial partner, he said.

According to the Italian-Iranian chamber of commerce, annual trade between the two countries has grown notably since 2002, reaching its peak of $9.7 billion in 2011.

After the EU’s decision of widening commercial sanctions against Iran, bilateral trade in the first eleven months of 2012 was halved to $4. 8 billion, which did not stop Italy from being Iran’s top European trading partner.

IANS