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FRIDAY, 18 APR 2014
04:15 PM Beirut time
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Italian minister to visit Iran on December 21-22
Agence France Presse
French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius, right, talks with Italian Foreign Minister Emma Bonino, center, and Malta's Foreign Minister George Vella during the EU foreign ministers meeting, at the European Council building in Brussels, Monday, July 22, 2013. (AP Photo/Yves Logghe)
French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius, right, talks with Italian Foreign Minister Emma Bonino, center, and Malta's Foreign Minister George Vella during the EU foreign ministers meeting, at the European Council building in Brussels, Monday, July 22, 2013. (AP Photo/Yves Logghe)
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ROME: Italian Foreign Minister Emma Bonino will travel to Tehran on December 21-22, the foreign ministry in Rome said, announcing what will be a rare visit by a senior European official to the Islamic republic.

Bonino will hold "institutional meetings" during the visit, the ministry said in a statement received on Sunday, without giving further details.

The trip follows a breakthrough interim deal struck last month between Iran and world powers that trades a slight easing in international sanctions for the Islamic state rolling back part of its disputed nuclear programme.

Italy has supported the recent diplomatic overtures from Iran following the election of President Hassan Rouhani this year and Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif met Bonino in Rome last month.

It will be the first time in nearly 10 years that an Italian foreign minister travels to Iran and follows a trip by Deputy Foreign Minister Lapo Pistelli in August, shortly after Rouhani's inauguration.

Bonino's visit also comes after a meeting in Vienna this month between Paolo Scaroni, the head of Italian energy major ENI, and Iran Oil Minister Bijan Zanganeh.

Scaroni said that the two had discussed "potential new activities of ENI in Iran" but added that this was "subject to lifting of the sanctions" -- something that can only happen under a comprehensive deal yet to be negotiated.

Scaroni was the first Western oil executive to meet with Zanganeh publicly since international powers struck the interim deal on Iran's nuclear programme.

 
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