|Britain is open to better ties with Iran, Hague tells Zarif||
TEHRAN – Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammed Javad Zarif held his first meeting with British Foreign Secretary William Hague since President Hassan Rouhani was elected.
In the meeting which took place in New York on Monday, Zarif said that the “illegal” sanctions imposed on Iran were not effective and had only targeted the Iranian people and that the West should revise its attitude toward the Islamic Republic.
He also discussed the situation in Syria with his British counterpart and welcomed the decision not to carry out a military strike against the Arab country.
According to BBC, Hague welcomed recent statements from Iran aimed at resolving the dispute over Tehran’s nuclear program.
Last week President Rouhani, who was elected in June, said he was ready to restart stalled talks on the issue after stating that his country would never seek to build nuclear weapons.
Hague said those statements should be matched "by concrete steps by Iran to address the international community's concerns about Iran's intentions."
He added, "The United Kingdom does not seek a confrontational relationship with Iran and is open to better relations.
"The United Kingdom welcomes President Rouhani and Foreign Minister Zarif's recent statements about Iran's wish to improve its relations with the outside world."
Hague said that as well as Iran's nuclear program, his discussions with Zarif took in the conflict in Syria, human rights, and bilateral relations between the two countries.
He added, "We talked about the need for peace in Syria, where Iran could play a constructive role, including by supporting the Geneva framework for a negotiation between the Assad (government) and the opposition…”
The meeting between Hague and Zarif is not the first time he has held talks with his Iranian counterpart since 2011. He saw Ali Akbar Salehi - foreign minister under the former President, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad - in the margins of the Heart of Asia Conference in Kabul in June 2012.
Hague withdrew British diplomats and shuttered the Tehran embassy after it was attacked in 2011 by a mob, which he claimed had the backing of the government. Iranian diplomats in London were also expelled.
Zarif also met with the foreign ministers of a number of other countries on Monday and Tuesday.
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