Middle East

Iran's Zarif to meet Ashton for nuclear talks Sept 1

European foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton, left, Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, right, address the media after closed-door nuclear talks in Vienna, Austria July 19, 2014. (AP Photo/Ronald Zak)

TEHRAN: Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif will meet EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton on Sept. 1 in Brussels to agree a framework for renewed nuclear talks, Iran said on Sunday.

Ashton is the lead negotiator for the six major powers seeking to reach a comprehensive agreement with Iran to allay long-standing international concerns about its nuclear programme by November 24.

The two sides had been working to a July target date but then they agreed to extend it to give more time to reach a historic deal.

The new round of full talks will take place in New York ahead of the opening of the U.N. General Assembly on Sept. 16, Deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Araqchi told the official IRNA news agency.

He said Iran would hold preparatory bilateral meetings with some of the six powers - Britain, China, France, Russia and the United States plus Germany - ahead of the talks.

The negotiations are the fruit of an interim deal that the powers reached with Iran last November, under which Tehran reined in some of its nuclear activities in return for limited relief from Western sanctions.

Diplomats say the talks have been making headway but that big differences remain over key elements of an eventual deal.

Iran wants a swift lifting of crippling Western sanctions, while the powers are pushing for much tighter curbs on uranium enrichment than Iran has been willing to accept.

The sensitive enrichment process - which can produce fuel for nuclear power stations or, in highly extended form, the core of an atomic bomb - has long been at the centre of international concerns about Iran's ambitions.





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