Mohammad Javad Zarif due to meet US secretary of state at UN in highest-level meeting since Iran’s 1979 revolution.
Iran’s foreign minister, Mohammad Javad Zarif, is due to meet his US counterpart, John Kerry, on Thursday as international negotiations over the Iranian nuclear programme resume for the first time since Iran’s presidential elections.
Zarif will meet the US secretary of state and the foreign ministers of five other world powers in what will be the highest-level direct US-Iranian talks since the Iranian revolution of 1979. It was announced by Catherine Ashton, the European Union foreign policy chief, after her own first meeting with Zarif on the eve of the UN general assembly in New York.
“What I saw today is energy and determination to move forward on our talks and many things flow from that,” said Ashton, who acts as a convenor for the six-nation group that leads nuclear negotiations with Iran. She also said diplomats and experts from the negotiating group would meet then with an Iranian team next month in Geneva to talk about the details of a possible nuclear compromise.
The last round of nuclear talks with Iran took place in Kazakhstan in April, but the negotiations have been stalled for eight years. Iran refuses to agree to UN security council demands for it to suspend the enrichment of uranium until it has convinced the UN and the International Atomic Energy Agency that it does not have a covert nuclear weaponsprogramme, and has provided details of earlier weapons development work. Iran insists its programme is peaceful and within its international rights, and it demands that the punitive western sanctions be lifted.
Since the election of a new pragmatist president, Hassan Rouhani, in June, Tehran has signalled that Iran might be ready for a compromise on the nuclear issue and Zarif, a American-educated former ambassador to the UN, is conducting an intense diplomatic offensive at the UN, arriving five days before the general assembly and meeting a large number of foreign ministers.
A meeting with Kerry had not been confirmed, however, until now. Rouhani arrives tonight and will address the general assembly tomorrow in what Iranian diplomats claim will be a concrete and detailed manifesto for a new chapter in the relations between Iran and the rest of the world. Both capitals have said a meeting between Rouhani and Barack Obama is possible if it looks like there might be a diplomatic opportunity to be seized.
Zarif will meet Britain’s foreign secretary, William Hague, at the UN this afternoon, when they are expected to discuss the nuclear issue and bilateral relations, beginning a process potentially leading to the restoration of full diplomatic ties since the British embassy in Tehran was ransacked by a mob in 2011.
In 2001, the US secretary of state at the time, Colin Powell, shook hands with his Iranian opposite number at the general assembly, but a Kerry-Zarif meeting would be the first talks at ministerial level since the Iranian revolution.
By The Guardian
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