Rouhani schedules European victory lap

Iran's President Hassan Rouhani will visit Europe next week, for the first time since the EU lifted sanctions against his country. The trip will take him to Italy and France, according to a diplomatic source.

Rouhani will meet the Italian president, prime minister and business leaders in Rome, on Monday and Tuesday. He is also scheduled to meet Pope Francis on the second day of his visit, a source told Reuters. He will then depart for Paris on Wednesday, January 27.

The Iranian president had originally planned to visit the two European countries in November, but those trips were canceled following the Paris terror massacres, which left 130 people dead and 352 others injured.

Meanwhile, Iran denounced new US sanctions on its missile program.

Washington announced Sunday that it was imposing sanctions on five Iranian nationals and a network of companies based in the United Arab Emirates and China in connection with Iran’s ballistic missile program.

A day earlier, the UN atomic watchdog confirmed that Iran had complied with the measures delineated in the deal it reached with global powers in Vienna in July 2015.

Iran’s Foreign Ministry decried the new measures as “illegitimate” Monday, and spokesman Hossein Jaber Ansari insisted that the missile program has no links with the nuclear issue.

“Iran’s missile program has never been designed to be capable of carrying nuclear weapons,” Ansari was quoted as saying by the ISNA news agency, according to AFP.

Both Europe and the US lifted sanctions against Iran on Saturday, with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) announcing that Tehran had fulfilled all of the measures required under its deal with the P5+1 group (US, UK, France, Russia, China, and Germany).


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