TEHRAN - Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif met with European Council President Herman van Rompuy and outgoing European Union foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton in Brussels for talks on the Iran nuclear program, Ashton’s spokesman Michael Mann said on Monday.
Zarif and Ashton discussed how to proceed with the Iran nuclear talks with a view to reaching a comprehensive agreement. They were set to discuss the exact schedule of the next round of negotiations between Iran and the 5+1 group (the five permanent members of the UN Security Council and Germany) in New York.
Ashton coordinates the 5+1 group negotiating with Iran over the country’s nuclear energy program.
Ashton welcomed Zarif at the headquarters of the European External Action Service (EEAS) in Brussels “for talks in framework of nuclear negotiations,” Mann wrote on his twitter page on Monday.
Earlier on the same day, the Iranian minister also met Van Rompuy to discuss Iran-EU mutual interests, Tehran’s nuclear energy program, and efforts to counter terrorism and extremism across the Middle East.
“Today we held talks with the EU and Belgium officials. Our first meeting was about general issues and overall interests of Iran and the EU, the nuclear issue, as well as terrorism and extremism in the [Middle East] region,” IRNA quoted Zarif as saying after the meetings.
Zarif is accompanied in his trip by Deputy Foreign Minister for Legal and International Affairs Seyyed Abbas Araqchi and Deputy Foreign Minister for European and American Affairs Majid Takht-e-Ravanchi.
Zarif left Tehran to Brussels on Monday morning as part of a three-leg tour of Europe which will later take him to Italy and Luxemburg as well.
In Italy, Zarif will meet Italian Foreign Minister Federica Mogherini who will replace Ashton on November 1.
Iran and the 5+1 group signed a historic interim deal in the Swiss city of Geneva in November, 2013. The agreement entered into force on January 20 and expired six months later. In July, Iran and the six countries agreed to extend their negotiations until November 24 in a bid to work out a final accord.