France's foreign minister said Tuesday that he would visit Iran "next week" to discuss resuming normal relations between the two countries after reaching a deal on Iran's nuclear program. French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius also said on French radio that talks with Iranian President Hasan Rowhani "were expected," Agence France-Presse reported.
During the nuclear negotiations, Fabius was noted for being particularly hawkish toward any deal with Iran, and France's delegation took one of the most firm stances of any of the six negotiating nations. Despite the delegation's hard line, France has had a long historical connection with Iran, and is expected to benefit from the reduced sanctions.
"I find it completely normal that after this historic deal was signed, France and Iran should restart normal relations," Fabius said, AFP reported.
Fabius' trip will be the second visit by a major Western official to Iran after world leaders formed a deal limiting Tehran's nuclear programs in exchange for an easing of international sanctions that have damaged the Iranian economy. German Economy Minister Sigmar Gabriel began a three-day visit Sunday to the Middle Eastern nation along with a delegation of business and industry leaders to discuss possible trade between the countries.
French corporations such as automaker Peugot and oil company Total were major participants in Iran until the sanctions adopted in 2011, Reuters reported. Fabius, in discussing his visit, also stressed that he was not worried about resuming trade due to the country's firm role during the deal.
"It's true that France was very firm," Fabius said in the same radio broadcast, Reuters reported. "Will French firms be penalized? My answer is no because in the past we had an important presence in Iran. Our (expertise) is excellent in a lot of fields and the Iranians are serious. You know in foreign policy, I think you lose nothing in being respected."
Fabius' comments came the same day that U.S. Defense Secretary Ash Carter was meeting in Israel with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu about the Iran nuclear deal, of which Israel has long disapproved. Netanyahu described last Tuesday's deal as a historic mistake, VOA News reported.