Zarif denies media reports about shift of leading role in N. negotiations to FM

Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif

TEHRAN (FNA)- Iran’s new Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif denied media reports alleging that President Rouhani has tasked his ministry with leading the nuclear talks with the six world powers, and meantime, said the standoff between Iran and the West can be resolved rather easily.

The AP claimed in a report earlier this week that Zarif would take the lead in Iran’s talks with the Group 5+1 (the US, Russia, Britain, China, France and Germany).

In response, the Iranian foreign minister said the Supreme National Security Council (SNSC) is still at the helm as “no presidential decision has been communicated to us in this regard”.

“This is an issue which must be addressed by the President who has not made any decision to this effect yet,” he added.

In similar remarks on Tuesday, Iranian Foreign Ministry Spokesman Seyed Abbas Araqchi also rejected the AP report which alleged that Zarif would be leading the negotiations with the G5+1, saying, “No decision has yet been adopted in this regard.”

Araqchi said the foreign ministry and other related bodies are “waiting for President Rouhani to choose the country’s chief negotiator”, and added, “Whenever he specifies the negotiating chief and team, the next step will be specifying the time of the negotiations.”

Also today, Zarif noted his phone talk with EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton earlier this week, and said, “Mrs Ashton expressed willingness to enter the nuclear discussions and we stressed that achieving a solution is no difficult.”

Following the phone conversation on Monday, Zarif underlined Tehran’s readiness to resume talks with the G5+1 in a bid to reach a solution to the nuclear standoff between the two sides.

“Mrs. Ashton contacted me and expressed her desire to resume talks between Iran and the Group 5+1 and in response I reiterated that the Islamic Republic is willing to resume the negotiations,” Zarif said on Monday.

“In the phone conversation, I told Mrs. Ashton that we favor a solution instead of merely engaging in talks,” Zarif added.

Catherine Ashton, who is the European Union foreign policy chief, is representing the six world powers in talks with Iran.

Iran and the G5+1 have held several rounds of talks on a range of issues, with the main focus being on Iran’s nuclear energy program.

The two sides wrapped up their latest round of negotiations on April 6 in the Kazakh city of Almaty. An earlier meeting had been held in the city on February 26-27.

The US, Israel and some of their allies claim that Iran is pursuing non-civilian objectives in its nuclear energy program, with Washington and the European Union using the unfounded allegation as a pretext to impose sanctions on Iran.

Tehran strongly rejects the groundless claim over its nuclear activities, maintaining that as a committed signatory to the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) and a member of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), it is entitled to use nuclear technology for peaceful purposes.

By Fars News Agency



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