By Lesley Wroughton
UNITED NATIONS, Sept 24 International Monetary
Fund chief Christine Lagarde met Iranian President Hassan
Rouhani on Tuesday for talks that focused on his government's
economic policies and way to deepen relations with the
IMF spokesman Gerry Rice told Reuters the meeting, on the
sidelines of U.N. General Assembly meetings in New York, was at
the request of the Iranian authorities "to discuss global
economic developments, the government's economic priorities, and
how the partnership with the IMF might be deepened."
It was their first meeting since Rouhani took office in
August, another sign that Rouhani is seeking to smooth relations
with the West and bring Iran fully back into the international
He has agreed to renew long-stalled talks on Iran's nuclear
program and will meet world powers at the UN later this week,
and there are signs of a possible thaw in relations between
Washington and Tehran after more than three decades of
The IMF last visited Iran in 2011 to assess the state of its
economy. The possibility of an IMF mission to Tehran will be
discussed at upcoming meetings of the IMF and World Bank in
Washington, Rice added.
An IMF mission would allow the Fund to take a closer look at
the impact of Western sanctions and gather more accurate data on
the economy. Sanctions have hurt trade and largely frozen Iran
out of the international banking systems since late 2011.
Analysts believe the country's oil exports have been roughly
In April, the IMF forecast that Iran's gross domestic
product would shrink 1.3 percent this year after contracting 1.9
last year. But the Fund forecast the Iranian economy would
likely resume expanding in 2014 at a pace of 1.1 percent.