New York, 23 September 2013
by EU High Representative Catherine Ashton following her meeting with Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif
I’ve just had my first meeting with Foreign Minister Zarif from Iran. As you know, I’ve spoken to him several times over the summer but this was our first opportunity to meet face to face.
We talked about a number of important issues but our focus was on the nuclear issue. We had a good and constructive discussion. Foreign Minister Zarif will join the E3+3 meeting later this week, which I will be chairing, in order to have a short discussion, and we have agreed that we, he and I, will meet with our teams in Geneva in October.
What I saw today was energy and determination to try and move forward in our talks. Many things flow from that, but this was the first meeting in order to establish how we will work together.
We didn’t talk about the details of what we will do. The purpose of this meeting was to establish how we would go forward. In terms of whether we’re on the verge of a
breakthrough, I would put it like this: that I was struck, as I said, by the energy and determination that the foreign minister demonstrated to me; that as you know, I have worked very hard to try and find a way in which we can address this issue of great concern;
and that I will take every opportunity to try and do that, and I hope this will be one.
And I have brought the E3+3 Ministers together, because this is an opportunity with everybody being in New York, and the purpose is always to reaffirm the work that we’re doing together and to have that chance to share and exchange ideas at a ministerial level.
I’m in touch with Ministers of course continuously on this issue and with all the political directors as well. When we have the opportunity to be joined by the Iranian Foreign Minister it will be a chance to exchange views, but as you’d appreciate there is a huge amount of work to do, which I hope we will start when we meet in Geneva.