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Italy's foreign minister announces Iran visit

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Italy's foreign minister announces Iran visit
Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif (L) and his Italian counterpart, Emma Bonino, in Rome. Photo: Andreas Solaro/AFP
13:19 CET+01:00
Italian Foreign Minister Emma Bonino will visit Iran, her ministry said on Friday, less than a month after meeting her Iranian counterpart in Rome.

While the date of Bonino’s visit has not been confirmed by the foreign ministry, Italian media reported she would be travelling to Iran “in the next few days”.

The announcement follows the nuclear deal reached between Iran and the five permanent members of the UN Security Council, plus Germany, in Geneva on November 24th.

As part of the deal Iran agreed to halt uranium enrichment above purities of five percent, in exchange for $7 billion (€5.1 billion) in sanctions relief.

While Italy was excluded from the talks in Switzerland, Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif travelled to Rome in November to meet with Bonino.

At a joint press conference on November 19th, Bonino said she hoped a nuclear deal would “restart our full political relationship”.

“I think that this is the beginning of a new chapter in the relationship with the [government] agency that can bring concrete results. I think we are facing a historical occasion,” Bonino said.

Al Alizadeh, an Iranian political analyst, told The Local that Bonino's visit to Iran "could be very beneficial for the EU".

"The Italian relationship is the least problematic one Iran has in the EU. Bonino’s visit opens the gate to other European foreign ministers to visit Iran; it’s a very important symbolic step," he said.

Bonino's visit could not have been possible before the Geneva deal was reached, Alizadeh said, as Italy was bound by the EU's isolationist policy towards Iran.

"Even though Italy was not part of the agreement, it has been a very significant economic partner with Iran. The sanctions caused by the nuclear dispute has affected the Italy relationship," Alizadeh told The Local.

In addition to rebuilding business links, Zarif said in Rome that there were “a number of possibilities” for Iran to work with Italy such as “collaborating together for peace and security in our region”.

Iran’s foreign minister was appointed earlier this year following the election of President Hassan Rouhani, who has taken a more open approach to international diplomacy as Iran struggles under the burden of economic sanctions.

Bonino last month said Italy has followed “with attention and respect, the new signal that has arrived from Iran” following Rouhani’s election.

The two foreign ministers have also discussed instability in the Middle East, such as the ongoing civil war in Syria.

“The situation in the region is so complicated, I think that Iran should be part of the solution not part of the problem,” Bonino said in November.

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