Ashton spokesman admits Tehran meeting not coordinated with Iran

Vienna, March 18, IRNA — European Union spokesman Michael Mann here Tuesday acknowledged that a recent controversial meeting of EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton in Tehran was ˈnot coordinatedˈ with the Iranian foreign ministry, according to IRNA.

Speaking at a press briefing on the Iran nuclear talks, Mann reaffirmed that Ashtonˈs unsanctioned meeting in Tehran was ˈnot directly coordinatedˈ with Iranian

Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif.

Mann said that the issue –which he branded ˈa slight misunderstandingˈ — was briefly touched upon in the morning meeting between Ashton and Zarif ahead of the opening session of the second round of talks on a nuclear agreement on Iranˈs nuclear program.

A planned dinner between Ashton and Zarif in Vienna Monday evening had been called off by the Iranian side in protest at the meeting with women activists in Tehran.

Iran had criticized Ashton for the “unsanctioned” action.

“Contact with civil society is recognized in diplomatic protocol so long as it does not constitute interference in internal affairs and respects customs,” Iranian foreign ministry spokeswoman Marzieh Afkham said.

She stressed “such incidents do not help relations”.

The foreign ministry issued an “official caution” to the Austrian embassy, which is believed to have organized the “unsanctioned” encounter, Afkham was quoted saying in a statement.



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