Iran's President Rouhani arrived in Italy on the first leg of a historic trip to Europe, a visit he hopes will attract new investor capital. 

The four-day visit to Italy and France that began on Monday is the first by an Iranian president since a warming of relations between Iran and Western powers following the signing of a deal on Tehran's nuclear programme last year. 

Rouhani's trip takes place following this month's lifting of EU and US sanctions on Tehran, in return for Iran's agreement with six major world powers in July to significantly scale down its nuclear programme. 

"After the nuclear agreement we want to elaborate on a middle-and long-term road map for our relationship with the EU, and especially with Italy and France," Rouhani said, before leaving for Rome with a large economic delegation, the DPA news agency reported.

"I will be in Rome and Paris to speak about and possibly come to concrete results on different economic projects, like car manufacturing and the modernisation of our civil aviation."

Audience with the pope

Rouhani will meet President Sergio Mattarella and Prime Minister Matteo Renzi on Monday, and take part in an Italy-Iran business forum on Tuesday, when he is also scheduled to be granted an audience by Pope Francis.

The Iranian president is set to leave for France on Wednesday with trade deals high on the agenda.

Iran already demonstrated its hunger for Western goods at an aviation conference on the eve of the visit, announcing plans on Sunday to buy eight A380 superjumbo jets from Airbus and eventually purchase up to 100 planes from US-maker Boeing.

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Source: Agencies