Iran and Italy sign several deals during visit by PM Renzi

AP News
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Posted: Apr 12, 2016 2:40 PM
Iran and Italy sign several deals during visit by PM Renzi

TEHRAN, Iran (AP) — Iran and Italy signed a series of bilateral agreements during a visit by Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi to Tehran on Monday, signaling both countries' desire to restore ties following this year's implementation of the Iran nuclear deal.

The agreements included plans for cooperation between Italian electricity and gas company Enel and the National Iranian Gas Export Company, Iranian state news agency IRNA reported.

Enel said the memorandum of understanding lays out details for possible cooperation involving natural gas, liquefied natural gas and related infrastructure. The agreement could include information-sharing, studies, analysis and training, "as well as exploring future opportunities for long term supplies," Enel said.

Other deals include a car component agreement with Danieli Group, an agreement with the Milan Airports company to renovate a domestic airport in Tehran, and another focused on promoting tourism, according to IRNA.

Ali Reza Daemi, deputy energy minister, told IRNA the two countries also agreed to build several biomass, solar and geothermal power plants.

Financial terms were not disclosed.

Separately, Italian oil services company Saipen said it inked a memorandum of understanding with Razavi Oil and Gas Development Company for work on the Toos gas field project, located 100 kilometers (62 miles) northeast of the city of Mashhad. It said the field holds more than 60 billion cubic meters of gas.

Italy once ranked among Iran's top trading partners, with 7 billion euros ($7.6 billion) in trade before international sanctions were imposed on Iran over its nuclear ambitions. A landmark deal to remove those sanctions in exchange for curbs on Iran's nuclear program went into effect in January.

"Before the sanctions Italy was Iran's budgets trade partner in the European Union and today we want Italy to play that role again," President Hassan Rouhani said during a ceremony to welcome the Italian premier. "Today, we want Italy to play its former role."

Renzi's two-day visit, which began Tuesday, was the first by an Italian leader since Giuliano Amato visited in 2001.

Renzi's trip follows a visit by Iranian President Hassan Rouhani to Rome in January in which the two countries inked billions of dollars in trade deals. Those agreements included agreements for oil services firm Saipem to upgrade two Iranian oil refineries and another for work on pipeline projects in the country.

Later Tuesday, Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei told Renzi that Iran welcomes improving relations with Italy, particularly in the field of economic cooperation.

Khamenei, who has final say on all major decisions in the country, said that Iran does not have the same attitude toward "some other European countries, since they act as the United States dictates," according to IRNA.

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Associated Press writer Adam Schreck contributed reporting from Dubai, United Arab Emirates.

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Follow Nasser Karimi on Twitter at www.twitter.com/ncarrimi