PARIS, Jan 27: Iran's President Hassan Rouhani arrives in France on Wednesday with the bosses of oil major Total and aircraft maker Airbus among top executives he is due to meet as the two countries look to revive business ties despite diplomatic differences.
Rouhani wraps up his visit to Italy Wednesday signalling the dramatic rapprochement between Tehran and the European powers since the lifting of sanctions against the Islamic Republic.
Italian officials said contracts signed in Rome would be worth up to 17 billion euros ($18.4 billion), underlining the huge economic stakes involved in Iran's re-opening, particularly for Europe's manufacturing and engineering sectors.
Meanwhile, Rouhani said he hoped his country could reconcile with fellow Middle Eastern powerhouse Saudi Arabia, but refused to apologise for an attack on a Saudi embassy.
"We did everything we had to, we condemned" the attack, Rouhani said of the torching of the embassy earlier this month by demonstrators protesting the execution of a prominent cleric from Saudi Arabia's Shiite minority.
Iran could have better relations with the United States, but it was up to Washington to change its "hostile" stance towards Tehran, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said on Wednesday. "It's possible that Iran and the United states might have friendly relations. But the key to that is in Washington's hands, not Tehran's," Rouhani said in a news conference in Rome before flying to Paris to continue his first trip to Europe since the lifting of sanctions.
He also accused the "Israeli lobby" for being responsible for U.S. hostility towards Iran. ?AFP, REUETRS