|Zarif ‘quite optimistic’ nuclear agreement will be reached||
TEHRAN - Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif says he is “quite optimistic” that the dispute over Tehran’s nuclear program can be resolved by a November 24 deadline.
Speaking after his meeting with Belgian Foreign Minister Didier Reynders in Brussels, Zarif said Tehran was committed to finding a solution to the nuclear issue, expressing confidence that a way out of the conflict could be found this year.
Zarif also called for a global battle against terrorism in the Middle East.
Commenting on the ongoing violence in Iraq, he said all countries in the region needed to work towards the formation of an “inclusive government that is representative of the Iraqi people.”
“We need all countries in the region to join forces to set aside illusions about gaining short-term gains from the presence of these terrorist forces and, looking at the long-term picture, their own interest in dealing with these terrorist organizations. And also in helping the Iraqi politicians and political establishment to expedite the formation of an inclusive government that is representative of the Iraqi people,” Zarif said.
Earlier on Monday, Zarif held a one-on-one meeting with EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton and European Council President Herman van Rompuy.
“We had a good discussion today with her [Ashton]. Of course, there are impediments to progress. The behavior that has been exhibited by some countries including the United States in imposing new sanctions has been certainly a less than positive indication for progress. But we are nevertheless committed to making progress and with Lady Ashton today, we discussed both the time frame as well as the issues that are involved in dealing with issues. I am quite optimistic after discussion with Lady Ashton that we can in fact resolve this issue in time,” Zarif said late on Monday.
Catherine Ashton coordinates the 5+1 group negotiating with Iran. The two sides failed to meet a July 20 deadline to negotiate a comprehensive nuclear agreement.
“I hope with the readiness and political will that I see in all parties to this discussion to have a resolution within the next three months,” Iran’s chief diplomat noted.
The negotiations between Iran and the United States, France, China, Britain and Russia plus Germany, aimed at ending a decade-old dispute over Iran’s nuclear program - were extended in July until Nov. 24 in view of persistent wide differences.
On August 29, the United States penalized a number of Iranian and other foreign companies, banks and airlines. Iran says its nuclear program is for civilian ends only and denies allegations from the West that it may want to develop nuclear weapons. Tehran also says its nuclear program is peaceful and that it produces low-enriched uranium only to make fuel for a planned network of atomic energy plants.
Iran welcomes enhancement of ties with Belgium
The Iranian foreign minister also held talks with Belgium’s Parliament Speaker Patrick Dewael in the Belgian capital, Brussels, where he said Tehran is determined to continue the nuclear talks with the 5+1 group.
He said Iran is determined to hold the negotiations, consolidate the nuclear rights of the Iranian nation, and work for the removal of the illegal sanctions against the Islamic Republic.
Elsewhere in his remarks, Zarif described Iran-Belgium cooperation as significant and welcomed the further enhancement of parliamentary ties between the two countries.
He underlined the importance of parliamentary relations between the two countries, and welcomed expansion of interactions between the Iranian and Belgian legislatures.
He also referred to Iran’s “World against Violence and Extremism” (WAVE) initiative, and said that the idea could be used as a proper ground for international cooperation to tackle the issue of extremism and terrorism.
On December 18, 2013, the UN General Assembly overwhelmingly voted to approve Iranian President Hassan Rouhani’s WAVE proposal, which calls on all countries across the globe to denounce violence and extremism. Under the resolution, the General Assembly would urge all member states to unite against violence and extremism in all its forms and manifestations, including sectarian violence.
The Belgian parliament speaker, for his part, said the February visit of Belgian Foreign Minister Didier Reynders to Iran was an indication of Brussels’ resolve to establish closer ties with Tehran.
Iran-EU parliamentary would help eliminate terrorism
The Iranian foreign minister also held talks with President of the European Parliament Martin Schulz, saying parliamentary cooperation between the two sides would help eliminate extremism and terrorism.
Referring to terrorism as a “serious threat” to global peace, Zarif called on all nations to stop supporting terrorist groups.
Schulz told Zarif, in return, that Iran has so far played a constructive role in dealing with major regional crises. He called for further parliamentary relations between Iran and the EU.
Zarif also met Chairman of the European Parliament Committee on Foreign Affairs Elmar Brok, where the two discussed Iran’s nuclear standoff with the West, human rights issues and Iran-EU relations.
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