Jan 23 - Iran's President Hassan Rouhani talks about ''constructive engagement'' with the U.S. during a speech in Davos. As Sonia Legg reports some analysts believe western firms could soon be scrambling to do business with Tehran.
The fact that he's here at all is news in itself - an Iranian President at Davos is a rare sight. But last week a deal with six major powers to restrict Iran's nuclear programme in exchange for a partial lifting of economic sanctions came into force. And now Hassan Rouhani is inviting European companies - particularly major energy groups - to seize economic opportunities in Iran. (SOUNDBITE)(Farsi) IRANIAN PRESIDENT, HASSAN ROUHANI, SAYING: "The Islamic Republic of Iran is prepared to engage in constructive cooperation for promoting global energy security, drawing on its vast oil and gas resources under a framework of mutual interests. We are prepared to engage in a serious process to establish reliable institutions for this long term partnership." Rouhani took office last August and quickly began an international charm offensive, speaking at the United Nations a month later. Promoting business was clearly a key aim this time - he privately met oil and gas executives before making his speech. (SOUNDBITE)(Farsi) IRANIAN PRESIDENT, HASSAN ROUHANI, SAYING: "We have had a history of deep economic and trade ties with European states. With the implementation of the Geneva agreement last week and its subsequent steps Iran's relations with European states will be entirely normalised. Engagement between Iran and the United States in the past months have also entered a new phase." Iran's nuclear prowess has long been the big issue - the last President was thought to have a weapons programme. Rouhani has again said that's not the case. And some are clearly getting excited. Ian Bremmer is President of risk consultants, the Eurasia group. (SOUNDBITE) (English): IAN BREMMER, EURASIA GROUP PRESIDENT AND FOUNDER, SAYING: "You're gonna see CEOs from all over the world looking to invest in an Iranian economy that's vastly more interesting than any other economy in the Middle East - 80 million people, educated middle class, women in the workplace, diversified economy, massive energy reserves so clearly he wants to say 'Iran is open for business, I've got a President and an administration that's looking to cut a deal on the nuclear side because the economy is what matters." The U.S. says western companies should not regard Iran as "open for business". And most sanctions - including very restricted access to the international financial system - remain in force. There are also foreign policy issues. Rouhani may have been welcome at the World Economic Forum but he was shut out of another Swiss conference. His support for Syria's President excluding him from U.N. sponsored peace talks in Montreux.