World

Austrian president "likely" to visit Iran this year

Iranian foreign minister Mohammad Javad Zarif takes part in a press conference at Necessidades Palace in Lisbon on April 15, 2015 after a meeting with his Portuguese counterpart.AFP PHOTO / PATRICIA DE MELO MOREIRA

VIENNA: Austrian President Heinz Fischer will probably visit Iran this year and may take a business delegation along should Tehran clinch a definitive deal with world powers over its nuclear policy, he told a newspaper.

Fischer, who has a largely ceremonial role, accepted in principle a year ago an invitation to visit Iran in what would be the first trip for years by a Western head of state.

Business leaders see the thaw with Iran as a potentially big opportunity to improve commercial ties once crippling economic sanctions over Iran's contested nuclear programme ease.

A tentative deal between Iran and six world powers was reached in Switzerland on April 2, aimed at clearing the way for a final settlement on June 30.

"Now that a framework agreement with Iran exists, a trip in the second half of 2015 has become likely," Fischer told the Wiener Zeitung in an interview published on Thursday.

He said his visit would serve primarily political purposes given Iran's regional importance. It was not yet clear whether government ministers or business executives would accompany him.

"The first step is awaiting a final result of the negotiations. Then we will set a date, and only then will the composition of the delegation be an issue," Fischer said.

No Western head of state visited Iran under reformist leader Hassan Rouhani's predecessor, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who was president from 2005 to 2013. Prior to that, the then-Austrian President Thomas Klestil visited in 1999 and 2004.

Austria, a neutral European Union member, was for centuries a bridgehead for Iran to Europe. Lately it has hosted talks between Tehran and six world powers on a nuclear deal, although the April accord was hammered out in neighbouring Switzerland.

A delegation of about 10 Austrian companies hoping to win post-sanctions business in Iran following any nuclear deal visited Tehran in late 2013, drawing a warning from the United States about jumping the gun.

Austria has traditionally had good economic relations with Iran. Exports - mostly pharmaceuticals, machinery and food - rose to 213.7 million euros ($227.3 million) last year, while imports rose to 19.3 million.

 

Recommended





Advertisement

Comments

Your feedback is important to us!

We invite all our readers to share with us their views and comments about this article.

Disclaimer: Comments submitted by third parties on this site are the sole responsibility of the individual(s) whose content is submitted. The Daily Star accepts no responsibility for the content of comment(s), including, without limitation, any error, omission or inaccuracy therein. Please note that your email address will NOT appear on the site.

Alert: If you are facing problems with posting comments, please note that you must verify your email with Disqus prior to posting a comment. follow this link to make sure your account meets the requirements. (http://bit.ly/vDisqus)

comments powered by Disqus

Advertisement

FOLLOW THIS ARTICLE

Interested in knowing more about this story?

Click here