Six global powers to discuss Iran in New York

Top EU diplomat due to meet Iran’s foreign minister on Monday in Brussels

MILAN – European Union's foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton said on Saturday that the six global powers would discuss ways to reach a comprehensive nuclear deal with Iran on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly in New York in September.

Talks aimed at curbing Iran's nuclear programme in exchange for ending sanctions began in February. But Iran and the six powers involved failed to meet an initial self-imposed July 20 deadline to negotiate a deal.

The six, comprising Britain, China, France, Germany, Russia and the United States and known as the P5+1, have agreed to extend negotiations until November 24. The European Union's top diplomat is expected to continue to lead nuclear negotiations with Iran even as she leaves her European Union job at the end of October.

There were discussions on Iran’s nuclear issue, Ashton told a news conference when asked if nuclear talks would take place in New York around mid-September. “We will use opportunity of the General Assembly in New York to also do that,” said Ashton, speaking at the end of a two-day informal gathering of the European Union foreign ministers in Milan that discussed the situation in Ukraine, Iraq and the Middle East.

Ashton is due to meet Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif in Brussels on Monday. This year's UN General Assembly starts in New York on Sept 16, when the next phase of Iran nuclear discussions is also due to start. In a signal, there should be no evasion of the sanctions while nuclear talks continue, the US on Friday penalised a number of Iranian and other foreign companies, banks and airlines for violating sanctions against Tehran.

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Aaj Kal