Iran Foreign Minister to meet 6 major powers at UN

Iran's Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif will hold nuclear talks with counterparts from the six major powers at the United Nations this week, European Union foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton said Monday, Sept 23, 2013. -- FILE PHOTO: AP
Iran's Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif will hold nuclear talks with counterparts from the six major powers at the United Nations this week, European Union foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton said Monday, Sept 23, 2013. -- FILE PHOTO: AP

UNITED NATIONS (AFP) - Iran's Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif will hold nuclear talks with counterparts from the six major powers at the United Nations this week, European Union foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton said Monday.

Mr Zarif will join a meeting of the foreign ministers from Britain, China, France, Germany, Russia and the United States at a meeting on Iran's contested nuclear programme, Ms Asthon told reporters.

The meeting, which is expected to be held on Thursday, was scheduled to involve US Secretary of State John Kerry. The US and Iran have no diplomatic relations.

Ms Ashton said she had a “good and constructive” meeting at the UN with Mr Zarif, a US-educated veteran diplomat named by newly elected President Hassan Rohani.

“Foreign Minister Zarif will join the E3-plus-three later this week, which I will be chairing, in order to have a short discussion,” Ms Ashton told reporters.

“We have agreed that he and I will meet with our teams in Geneva in October,” she said.

Ms Ashton played down expectations of a breakthrough, but voiced hope.

“I was struck by the energy and determination on the part of the minister,” Ms Ashton said.

But she said, “As you would appreciate, there is a huge amount of work to do.”

US President Barack Obama has pledged to test whether Mr Rohani, who is considered  moderate within the clerical regime, is serious about resolving Western and Israeli concerns about Iran’s nuclear programme.

But the White House has played down the chance of a meeting between Mr Obama and Mr Rohani at the UN General Assembly, which both are scheduled to address on Tuesday.

Iran says its sensitive nuclear work is meant for peaceful purposes, but Western nations and Israel have voiced fear that the regime will seek a nuclear bomb.