Visitors browse the exhibition stand of Iran at the International Tourism Trade Fair (ITB) in in Berlin, Germany, March 9, 2016. REUTERS/Fabrizio Bensch
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A few months after U.S. President George W. Bush branded Iran part of an "axis of evil" in 2002, the European Union took a different tack and started talks with Tehran to increase economic ties, hoping that business would help rapprochement. The talks collapsed over Iran's nuclear ambitions, but more than a decade later, the EU looks willing to try again for a pact to capitalize on the historic nuclear deal with Iran that brought an end to U.N. sanctions, officials say.Many in the EU are eager to support signs that Iran, a $400-billion economy, is opening up and to find a new market for European investors facing weak economic growth at home.A lower level delegation of EU energy officials held talks in Iran last month.An EU-Iran cooperation accord would give Brussels a bigger role in market reforms required for Iran to join the WTO.Italy, where the economy continues to struggle after a three-year slump wants to rebuild the lucrative relationship it enjoyed before U.N. sanctions were imposed on Iran in 2010, when it was Iran's largest European trade partner.
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