EU foreign affairs head Catherine Ashton will meet later this month Iran's foreign minister, newly in charge of the dossier on the country's contested nuclear program, an official said Friday.
Ashton called Mohammad Javad Zarif "following the news that the foreign ministry will be responsible for the nuclear negotiations," Ashton's spokesperson Michael Mann said.
"They agreed that they will meet in New York during the UN General Assembly," held later this month, Mann said.
Tehran announced Thursday that President Hassan Rohani had tasked the foreign ministry with handling the nuclear talks, a move taken as signaling Iran
might prove more accommodating that under his predecessor.
Under president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad,
Iran's nuclear dossier was handled by unyielding hardliners.
Zarif said Friday in Tehran that Iran wants to allay international concerns over its nuclear program, widely suspected of hiding efforts to build a bomb.
"There are two principles in the nuclear domain -- first and foremost, respect for our rights in matters of nuclear technology, especially the enrichment of uranium," he said.
"Allaying international concerns is in our interest because atomic weapons do not form part of the Islamic republic's policies," Zarif said.
"Consequently, our interest is to remove any ambiguity regarding our country's nuclear program."
"I told Mrs Ashton that if there is a political will to resolve this matter, particularly regarding Iran's nuclear rights, we are equally ready to move forward," he said.
Ashton leads the talks with Tehran on behalf of Britain, China, France, Russia and the United States, the permanent members of the UN Security Council, plus Germany.
Last month, she called Zarif to express 'her continued determination and commitment to seek a diplomatic solution to the Iranian nuclear issue."
The United States urged Iran Thursday to hold substantive talks on its nuclear program, as Tehran revealed that the foreign ministry had now been tasked with leading the negotiations.
"We reiterate our hope that the Iranian government will engage substantively with the international community to reach a diplomatic solution to Iran's nuclear program and to cooperate fully with the IAEA in its investigation," State Department spokesperson Jen Psaki said.
Rohani has said Iran is ready for "serious" talks on its nuclear program without delay and following his election in June, he expressed a desire to engage in more transparent talks with world powers, but without abandoning Iran's "undeniable rights" in the nuclear field, particularly with respect to uranium enrichment.
"Should this new government choose to engage substantively and seriously to meet its international obligations and find a peaceful solution to this issue, it will find a willing partner in the United States."
Western countries and Israel
accuse Iran of using its nuclear program as a cover to develop weapons capability, a charge Tehran strongly denies.
- Receive Ynetnews updates
directly to your desktop