President Hassan Rouhani brings the case to Europe this week for Iran as a potential investment bonanza, after the lifting of financial sanctions brought his country of 80 million people back into the world of global commerce.
Rouhani, a pragmatist elected in 2013 on a platform to reduce Iran’s isolation, championed the deal under which Iran curbed its nuclear program in return for the lifting of U.S., EU and United Nations sanctions this month.
On his first trip abroad since the accord took effect, he will lead a 120-strong delegation that includes Iranian entrepreneurs as well as the oil and gas minister and other government officials for five days in Paris and Rome. He will meet Pope Francis and French President Francois Hollande.
A week after nearly all sanctions were lifted, French and Italian officials still do not expect major deals to be signed yet during the trip. Rouhani himself has spoken of a “long road” to Iran’s economic integration with the world.
Nevertheless, Iran already demonstrated its hunger for Western goods at an aviation conference on the eve of the visit, announcing plans on Sunday to buy eight A-380 superjumbo jets from Airbus and eventually buy up to 100 planes from Boeing.
The visit also comes as global diplomats are trying to arrange the first peace talks in two years to end the Syrian civil war. Shi’ite Muslim Iran is the strongest ally of President Bashar al-Assad, while European countries back his mainly Sunni Muslim opponents. Recent months have also seen an increase in hostility between Iran and traditional Western ally Saudi Arabia.
“This is a very important visit,” said a senior Iranian official. “It’s time to turn the page and open the door to cooperation between our countries in different areas.”
Read more: Yahoo News