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France, Iran sign multi-billion dollar trade deal

France and Iran heralded a series of major deals thought to be worth billions of dollars on Thursday as the two countries resealed trade ties following the lifting of sanctions against Tehran.

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, visiting Paris as part of a tour that saw him stop in Rome earlier in the week, oversaw the signing of agreements in aviation, car manufacturing, oil and agriculture among other sectors.

“We are ready to turn the page on a new relationship between our countries,” Rouhani said in a speech to a Franco-Iranian forum at the headquarters of the Medef business federation.

“France has announced that it is ready to once again enter Iran with a new energy and a new will. We have also come here today to welcome French entrepreneurs, investors to begin economic activities in Iran.”

Among the contracts is a 400 million euro ($436 million) deal with carmaker Peugeot, which has ties to Iran spanning 50 years.

Rouhani, the first Iranian president to visit Europe since 1999, is in Europe following the lifting of sanctions put in place to control Iran’s nuclear program.

Prime Minister Manuel Valls, who was also present at the conference attended by business leaders and ministers, said he expected the countries to agree deals in health, agriculture and the environment. He called for “building long-term cooperation” with Iran.

“France now wishes to reconnect with your country and build again with you, your country, with your contractors… an ambitious partnership,” Valls told the president. “France is ready to mobilize its businesses, engineers and technicians, [its] extensive resources to contribute to the modernization of your country.”

The head of Medef, Pierre Gattaz, told reporters he expected four major contracts to be agreed, including an order of 114 passenger planes from Airbus and the joint venture between PSA Peugeot Citroen and Iran Khodro.

France’s national rail operator SNCF and aluminum producer Fives are also expected to unveil deals.

Rouhani is due to give a news conference with French President Francois Hollande later Thursday.

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