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Hollande invites Iranian president to visit Paris

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Hollande invites Iranian president to visit Paris
French president François Hollande seen here shaking hands with Hassan Rohani. Photo: AFP
09:55 CEST+02:00
French president François Hollande has invited his Iranian counterpart Hassan Rouhani to visit Paris in November in what would be an historic trip if the invitation is accepted.

Iran's President Hassan Rouhani has been invited to visit Paris in November, French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius said in Tehran on Wednesday.

The invite came in a letter addressed to Rouhani from French President Francois Hollande which Fabius delivered on his trip to the Iranian capital, two weeks after a nuclear deal was struck between the Islamic republic and world powers.

"I am the bearer of an invitation from the president of the French republic to the Iranian president to visit France if he wishes, in November," Fabius said during a press conference with his Iranian counterpart Mohammad Javad Zarif.

If taken up, the trip would be Rouhani's first to France as president.

As France's chief diplomat in the nuclear negotiations, Fabius gained a reputation for taking a hawkish public stance on what Iran must do under an agreement to end the dispute over its nuclear programme.

However the French foreign minister started his trip to Iran by saying it was time to kickstart relations between the two countries following the nuclear deal.

"It's an important trip," Fabius told reporters at the French embassy in Tehran as he started a short but much-heralded visit following the historic July 14 accord between Iran and six world powers.

As France's chief diplomat in those negotiations, Fabius gained a reputation for taking a hawkish public stance on what Iran must do under a nuclear deal.

He has also come under criticism from Iranian media, earning the nickname "the obstacle" in the ultimately successful talks.

Acknowledging much had to be done to improve the relationship between Tehran and Paris however, Fabius said both nations stood to benefit from the recent diplomacy.

"We are two great, independent countries, two great civilizations. It is true that in recent years, for reasons that everyone knows, the ties have cooled but now thanks the nuclear deal, things will be able to change," he said.

Describing the one-day visit to Iran as an opportunity to revive ties "especially in the economic domain because there is a lot we can do together" he did not however dodge key disagreements.

"There are a number of points on which we have differences," Fabius said, alluding to regional conflicts in Syria and Yemen and also on Iran's refusal to acknowledge Israel.

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