TEHRAN – European Union foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton, who is coordinating talks between six world powers and Iran on Tehran’s nuclear program, arrived in Tehran on Saturday for an official visit.
Upon her arrival, she was welcomed by Abbas Araqchi, the Iranian deputy foreign minister and a top nuclear negotiator.
Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif had earlier invited Ashton to make a trip to Tehran.
It is the first visit to Tehran by an EU foreign policy chief in nearly 6 years. Her predecessor Javier Solana visited the Islamic Republic in 2008.
During her stay, she will meet with Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, President Hassan Rouhani, and Parliament Speaker Ali Larijani.
Iran and the 5+1 group (the five permanent members of the UN Security Council plus Germany) are aiming to build on a breakthrough deal reached late last year in Geneva under which Tehran agreed to curb parts of its nuclear program in exchange for some easing of sanctions.
The high profile visit of the EU’s top diplomat to Tehran is expected to narrow the gaps between the Islamic Republic and the West in drawing up a comprehensive nuclear deal.