Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif on Monday held talks with Pope Francis in Vatican City, a meeting he described on Twitter as a “wonderful audience”.
Zarif also met the Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Pietro Parolin and Foreign Minister Archbishop Paul Gallagher.
“Wonderful audience with His Holiness @Pontifex. Also good meetings with Cardinal Parolin & Archbishop Gallagher,” he tweeted.
The top diplomat said during the meetings they exchanged views on “commonalities of our objectives and challenges, interfaith dialogue, Palestine, US sanctions [and] bilateral and international cooperation with the Holy See”.
Zarif arrived in Rome on the second leg of his tour of Europe to hold talks with Italian and Vatican officials, following a visit to Spain, where he discussed mutual issues, regional cooperation and international developments with Spanish officials.
Rebuilding trade ties
Earlier on Monday, he met his Italian counterpart Luigi Di Maio in Rome to discuss the expansion of mutual ties and international cooperation in areas of common interest.
“During this meeting, we had good talks about bilateral relations,” Zarif said after meeting Di Maio, adding that they explored ways for Italian companies to return to Iran once the negotiations in Vienna to revive the 2015 nuclear deal have concluded, Press TV wrote.
“Italian companies had set up about $30 billion in contracts and $5 billion in credit for their presence in Iran,” before the United States unilaterally withdrew from the nuclear deal, officially called the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) in 2018, Zarif said.
“Now those opportunities needed to be reconstructed… and the ground be prepared for Italy, as an old partner of Iran, to return to the country’s economic scene," he noted.
The two top diplomats also discussed issues related to the current JCPOA discussions in Vienna as well as those related to Yemen, Afghanistan, Iraq and cooperation with Persian Gulf states.
The Italian foreign minister expressed his country’s interest for expanding bilateral ties with Iran, particularly in political, economic and cultural fields.