Sat Feb 11, 2017 10:03AM
Senior Iranian and Swedish officials attend a ceremony to sign documents of cooperation, in Tehran, February 11, 2017.
Senior Iranian and Swedish officials attend a ceremony to sign documents of cooperation, in Tehran, February 11, 2017.

President Hassan Rouhani says the European Union should buttress the bloc’s banking relations with Iran so as to optimize the opportunities provided by the country’s 2015 nuclear deal with Tehran.

He made the remarks in Tehran on Saturday at a joint press conference with visiting Swedish Prime Minister Stefan Löfven.

The Iranian chief executive also said the country favored better banking transactions with Sweden.

The comments came as fear of potential US punitive measures continue to dissuade European banks and firms from fully availing themselves of the chances created by the agreement. The nuclear deal, called the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), was signed in 2015 between Iran and the P5+1 group of countries, namely the US, the UK, France, Russia, China, and Germany. It lifted nuclear-related sanctions on Iran, offering big opportunities for foreign businesses. The previous American administration had “verbally” encouraged the European institutions to restore their monetary ties with Iran, but Washington’s far-reaching clout over the international economy has largely prohibited such prospect.

Rouhani also hailed Sweden’s “moderate” approach vis-à-vis Iran, which he said was maintained even when Tehran was under sanctions over its nuclear work.

Löfven had been officially welcomed by the Iranian chief executive earlier in the day. He is in the Islamic Republic at the head of a high-ranking political and economic delegation on a three-day visit. The visit by the Swedish premier also featured the two sides signing five documents of cooperation. The documents enabled cooperation in the areas of innovation and technology, higher education and research, road construction, communication and information technology, and family and women’s affairs.

Rouhani said, “The visit by the Swedish prime minister and a ranking delegation [to Iran] signifies the two countries’ serious will to develop bilateral ties and consult toward the reduction of tensions in the region as well as international peace and stability.” The countries are determined to have the level of bilateral ties returned to the pre-sanctions era, he said.

Löfven, for his part, stressed the historic nature of his visit, of which he said he was “very proud.” He added that the ranking of his accompanying delegation indicated the importance his country attached to Iran and to relations with the Islamic Republic. He also announced that his visit was to be followed by several more high-level trips by Swedish officials to Iran.