Iran's president has told a forum of business leaders in Rome that his country is now the safest and most stable in the region. Hassan Rouhani is using the first state visit by an Iranian president to Europe in nearly two decades to boost his country's economy, now that a nuclear deal has led to the lifting of sanctions.
Italy also sees Iran as a potential peacemaker for Syria. Pope Francis, who stressed reconciliation and mediation, could explore that potential at his meeting on Tuesday with Rouhani.
Italian Foreign Minister Paolo Gentiloni says, after meeting his Iranian counterpart, that Tehran can be a regional player in reducing Middle East tensions, starting with Syria's civil war.
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Rouhani told reporters the political talks leading to the nuclear deal could provide the blueprint for pursuing peace in the Middle East.
Rouhani's four-day visit to Italy and France is part of efforts by Iran to reach out to its old partners following the implementation of the nuclear deal, and Rouhani is eager for foreign investments after the lifting of international sanctions. The trip was originally planned for November but postponed by the attacks in Paris.