Spokesman confirms EU Security Policy chief's visit to Iran, yet no specific date

Baku, Azerbaijan, Jan. 16

By Saeed Isayev - Trend:

EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy intends to visit Iranian capital of Tehran in the course of the next weeks.

Ashton previously was invited to visit Tehran by Islamic Republic's foreign minister Mohammad Javad Zarif. Iran's Deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Araqchi told Mehr news agency on Jan. 11 that "EU High Representative may visit the country at any time".

Speaking with Trend, Ashton's spokesman Michael Mann confirmed that Ashton plans to visit Tehran, but did not specify the exact date.

"I read with interest the invitation to visit Tehran and it is my intention to do so in the course of the next weeks," Ashton said at a press conference after talks with Kuwait's Foreign Minister, Sheikh Sabah Khaled Al-Sabah.

Reuters reported citing a diplomatic source on Jan. 13 that the P5+1 group and Iran are "very likely" to resume nuclear negotiations in February, shortly after an interim, six-month deal restricting its atomic work goes into effect.

The goal of the new round talks is to find a broad settlement in the decade-old dispute over Iran's nuclear program. The aim is to defuse the risk of mistrust leading to deeper tensions or even conflict in the Middle East.

The diplomatic source, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said the first meeting between Iran and six powers - the United States, Russia, China, France, Britain and Germany - would include Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif and EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton.

It should be noted that Iran and the P5+1 reached a nuclear agreement on Nov. 24. Iran has agreed to curb some of its nuclear activities for six months in return for sanctions relief. On Jan. 12, U.S. president Barack Obama confirmed that the agreement reached with Iran in Geneva in November would be implemented starting January 20.

Under the agreement, six major powers agreed to give Iran access to $4.2 billion in revenues blocked overseas if it carries out the deal, which offers sanctions relief in exchange for steps to curb the Iranian nuclear program.

The U.S. and its Western allies suspect Iran of developing a nuclear weapon - something that Iran denies. The Islamic Republic has on numerous occasions stated that it does not seek to develop nuclear weapons, using nuclear energy for medical researches instead.

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