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News number: 9102111593

09:43 | 2012-05-12

Foriegn Policy

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Former French Premier in Tehran

TEHRAN (FNA)- Former French socialist prime minister Michel Rocard arrived in Tehran on an unofficial three-day visit to meet with several high-ranking Iranian officials.

Rocard, whose trip was not coordinated by the French foreign ministry, may meet Iranian Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi and top nuclear negotiator Saeed Jalili, French daily Le Figaro reported quoting his entourage.

The visit, first planned for April but postponed after the 81-year-old Rocard was hospitalized in Stockholm in late March, comes days after the May 6 election of socialist Francois Hollande as France's president.

According to Le Figaro, the visit is aimed at "boosting relations" between Paris and Tehran, which were seriously strained under the presidency of Nicolas Sarkozy.

"We hope his visit will facilitate fresh contacts between the next French government and Iran," Michel Dubois, an aide who is accompanying Rocard during his visit, told Le Figaro.

The paper said it was not clear whether Rocard is carrying a message from Hollande for Iranian officials.

Rocard's visit comes as Iran is preparing for a new round of talks with world powers in Baghdad on May 23 that will focus on its civilian nuclear program.

France under Sarkozy was the strong voice in the European Union to advocate harsh US-backed economic sanctions against Iran.

On Monday Iran expressed hope that Hollande's presidency would usher in a "new era" in its relations with Paris.

The EU is poised to enact oil sanctions Sarkozy pushed to be imposed on Iran on July 1, although officials of the bloc announced earlier this week that they intend to postpone enacting of the embargo.