Iran's Rouhani embarks for European trade tour

Iranian president brings oil minister on first post-sanctions trade mission.
By Daniel J. Graeber Follow @dan_graeber Contact the Author   |   Jan. 25, 2016 at 9:39 AM
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ROME, Jan. 25 (UPI) -- With the nation's oil minister in tow, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani left Tehran for his first post-sanctions tour of European countries.

"Expansion of relations with members of the European Union is among Tehran's main policies," the Iranian president said before departing for Rome.

Iranian Oil Minister Bijan Zangeneh is accompanying the president on his European tour. Before leaving, the oil ministry's news website, SHANA, reported the minister had met in Tehran with representatives from French energy company Total and Italian oil and gas player ENI.

Rouhani's tour comes as sanctions pressures ease on Iran after so-called Implementation Day was verified mid-January, confirming Iran had met its obligations under a multilateral nuclear agreement reached in July.

The Central Bank of Iran said last week it could now work with European partners after bank restrictions were lifted.

Iran has been anticipating a return to the international economy as global doors open in response to the nuclear deal. A member of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries, Tehran said it could add as much as 500,000 barrels of oil per day to the global market, though pulling its economy away from oil is at the top of Rouhani's economic agenda.

Rouhani's office said the automotive and civil aviation sectors would be among his major focal points during his visit to Italy, and later to France.

Nevertheless, Iran during the weekend announced that Japan agreed to extend a contract to purchase crude oil from the Islamic republic. Russian oil company Lukoil, meanwhile, signed a deal to help explore for oil in the southwestern Iranian province of Khouzestan.

Holding steady at around 2.8 million barrels per day under sanctions, Iran's output should increase about 10 percent for the year.

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