EU official: gap with Iran over nuclear program can be narrowed

EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton (L) and Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif attend a news conference in Vienna July 18, 2014.

OTTAWA (Reuters) – Iran is far apart from the six world powers negotiating with it over scaling back its nuclear program, but that gap could be narrowed in talks next week, the European Union’s foreign policy chief said on Monday.

Iran and the powers failed to meet a July 20 target date for an agreement and are due to hold their first negotiating round since then in New York on Sept. 18. The deadline for a deal has been extended to Nov. 24.

“My hope is that we will make progress. … We believe although we are far apart, there is the possibility of being able to narrow the gap,” Catherine Ashton told reporters in Ottawa when asked about her expectations for the New York round.

“But we are determined in so doing to do it fully aware that the world is watching and expecting that any agreement must be a good and positive one if it can be found.”

Ashton was in Canada’s capital, Ottawa, for a meeting with Foreign Minister John Baird.

The six powers – the United States, Russia, China, France, Germany and Britain – want Iran to scale back its nuclear program in exchange for phasing out tough sanctions.

Western countries suspect Tehran wants to be able to build a nuclear bomb. Iran says it is a peaceful project to generate electricity.

By Reuters


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