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Foreign Minister Steinmeier invites Iran's Rouhani to Germany

Germany has its eyes on boosting trade and investment with Iran following the lifting of sanctions. Iran's cooperation is also critical for resolving the conflict in Syria.

Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier in Tehran on Wednesday encouraged Iranian President Hassan Rouhani to visit Germany during his next visit to Europe as the two nations seek to strengthen cooperation.

Steinmeier said he told the Iranian president "to keep Germany in mind as a destination on his next trip to Europe."

The curtain around the Islamic Republic's economic and political isolation lifted following the implementation of a nuclear deal between Tehran and six world powers in January.

Sanctions cut down trade figures and left Iran's infrastructure badly in need of investment. Now, countries are scrambling for a cut of the pent up demand in the 80 million person Iranian market, with

Germany alone expecting a four fold increase in exports to 10 billion euros ($10.92 billion) in five years.

On his first visit to Europe since sanctions were lifted, Rouhani visited Italy and France last week

leaving behind billions of euros in business deals.
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High hopes in Iran over thaw with west

Germany's diplomatic push on Syria

Separately, Germany is looking for Iran to play a constructive role in resolving the conflict in Syria, where it is a major backer of the Assad regime alongside Russia.

Steinmeier's visit comes as uphill peace talks between the Syrian opposition and regime kicked off in Geneva this week. Those talks appeared to stall soon after they started as the opposition called for the lifting of sieges, a prisoner release and cessation of Syrian and Russian bombing.

At a press conference with Steinmeier, Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif said the peace talks were a "good start" but had not progressed as he would have wished.

Meanwhile, Steinmeier has called on the Syrian regime to implement confidence-building humanitarian gestures in an apparent reference to opposition demands.

Against the backdrop of the Syria crisis and

Steinmeier's visit lies a brewing regional conflict between Iran and Saudi Arabia,

with each power trying to exert its influence across the region to the potential detriment of peace talks in Geneva.

Germany's top diplomat called on Iran and Saudi Arabia to overcome their differences before he set off to Riyadh in an attempt to mediate multiple conflicts.

cw/kms (dpa, Reuters)

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