Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said on Sunday that his country is capable of being a “successful model” of democracy in the Middle East.

“Iran can play a significant role in the region,” Zarif said in a meeting in Tehran with Pier Ferdinando Casini, chairman of Italy’s Senate Foreign Affairs Committee, according to a report in Iran’s Tasnim News Agency.

Referring to regional instability, the foreign minister said that “homegrown models of democracy” were needed.

“A great and influential country like Iran can play an important role in the region,” Casini said, according to the report.

Casini began his three-day visit to Iran on Friday, heading a five-member Italian parliamentary delegation.

Italian Foreign Minister Emma Bonino visited Iran last month and met with Zarif and President Hassan Rouhani.

Meanwhile, Iranian lawmaker Abbas Ali Mansouri Arani told Tasnim that a delegation of British parliamentarians led by former Foreign Secretary Jack Straw was expected to arrive in Tehran on Tuesday for a three-day visit.

Visits by Italian and British lawmakers to Tehran represent a thawing in relations between Iran and Europe since the deal struck in Geneva in November with world powers.

Various countries are eager to open up business ties with Iran after having been shut out due to sanctions on the country.

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