President Hassan Rouhani says the European Union is willing to expand its relations with Iran, especially in the light of the circumstances that has ensued Tehran’s nuclear agreement with world powers.
Rouhani made the remarks in Tehran on Wednesday during a joint press conference with visiting Finnish President Sauli Niinistö, who is in the Iranian capital at the head of a large business delegation.
“During today’s discussions, we addressed the [existing] capacity of relations between Iran and the EU, especially after the JCPOA and the European side’s willingness to expand [bilateral] economic, scientific, and technological relations,” the Iranian chief executive noted.
The Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) was inked between Tehran and the P5+1 group of world powers, namely Russia, China, France, Britain, the US and Germany on July 14, 2015. The accord, which took effect in January, ended decades of economic sanctions against Iran in exchange for restrictions on its nuclear program.
On Monday, Iran’s Foreign Ministry said an Iranian delegation composed of deputy foreign ministers are to hold general talks with EU officials in Brussels in December, saying the talks will cover a range of issues.
“Our ties with Europe are fundamental and age-old and we have numerous commonalities and can even differ on issues that have to do with values and regional affairs,” said Ministry Spokesman Bahram Qassemi.
Rouhani also said economic ties with Finland had suffered prior to the JCPOA’s implementation as a result of the anti-Iran sanctions, but voiced certainty that the Finnish leader’s visit to Tehran would be a fresh start for the expansion of their relations.
Over the past days, the two sides have inked four memoranda of understanding in the areas of energy, communications and technology, environment and investment.
Rouhani also said it had been agreed during the trip that the two countries should expand banking relations, have direct flights between Tehran and Helsinki and establish a railway track that would connect the two states via Baku and Moscow.
The two statesmen had also addressed the developments in Middle Eastern states, namely Iraq, Syria, Libya, Yemen, and discussed the need for international cooperation against terrorism.
For his part, the Finnish head of state hailed the long-standing cooperation between the two nations, saying, “Iran was one of the first countries to recognize Finnish independence.”
“I believe that now, the Islamic Republic of Iran and Finland will cooperate further,” said Niinistö, describing the nuclear deal between Iran and the P5+1 states as an important milestone.
“I have brought with me a large business delegation and they have been very satisfied with their discussions with their colleagues from Iran,” he said.
There are various areas of potential cooperation between the two sides, including energy, clean tech, information and communications technology (ICT) as well as forestry.