Iran's president is boasting to a forum of business leaders in Rome that his country is now the safest and most stable in the region. Hassan Rouhani is using the first state visit by an Iranian president to Europe in nearly two decades to boost his country's economy, now that a nuclear deal has led to the lifting of sanctions.

Italy also sees Iran as a potential peacemaker for Syria. Pope Francis, who stressed reconciliation and mediation, could explore that potential at his meeting on Tuesday with Rouhani.

Italian Foreign Minister Paolo Gentiloni says, after meeting his Iranian counterpart, that Tehran can be a regional player in reducing Middle East tensions, starting with Syria's civil war.