Ashton's visit to Iran productive

Photo: Ashton's visit to Iran productive / Iran

Baku, Azerbaijan, March 10

By Dalga Khatinoglu, Temkin Jafarov - Trend:

Iranian analysts have assessed the EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton's visit to Tehran as "productive with positive perspectives" .

Mrs. Ashton started a three-day long visit to Iran on March 8 and held several meetings with Iran's former nuclear negotiator Saeed Jalili, the top politic advisor of Supreme Leader Ali Akbar Velayati, the Secretary of Iran Supreme National Security Council Ali Shamkhani, Parliament Speaker Ali Larijani as well as some human right activists.

This is the first visit by a senior EU leader to Iran since 2008.

Hassan Beheshtipour an Iranian Expert on International Affairs told Trend on March 10 that Ashton's meeting with several officials, each of whom represent a different wing of power in the country, is a smart and well-assessed step to evaluate Iran's nuclear and foreign policy positions.

He went on to say that Mrs. Ashton for first time had an opportunity to talk face-to-face with Shamkhani, Larijani and Velayati and hear their views..

Beheshtipour says that Europe has opened a new page in relations with Iran after the interim nuclear deal and Ashton's meeting with Jalili indicates that she is determined to work with all sides and parties of the political spectrum, not only with the Iranian government.

Jalili was Iran's former secretary of Supreme National Security Council and led nuclear talks with P5+1 from August 2007 to August 2013. He is known as a hardliner and is against any compromise in the nuclear talks with the West. Jalili was also Hassan Rouhani's rival during the presidential elections held in mid-2013.

Iran and the six powers achieved an interim nuclear accord on November 24, 2013 which came in to effect on Jan. 20, a deal which has been criticized by hard-liners inside the country.

Iranian expert on international issues Hassan Hanizadeh told Trend on March 10 that Ashton's visit toTehran targets two goals. The first one is evaluating the results of Iran, P5+1 nuclear talks and the way of implementing the interim nuclear accord.

Hanizadeh went on to say that there are different interpretations of the achieved nuclear deal and Mrs. Ashton is attempting to clarify the outlines of some articles mentioned in the nuclear accord by negotiating with Iran. One of disputed issues which has been interpreted differently by Iran and the U.S. is Iran's right to enrich uranium.

Ashton was asked by Iran's IRIB TV during a press conference on March 9 whether the EU recognizes Iran's uranium enrichment right. She avoided a direct response and only referred to the articles mentioned in nuclear accord, saying you can see the signs of our approach to Iran's nuclear program by referring to the accord.

Hanizadeh says that Ahston's second objective is boosting relations between Iran and the EU to solve ongoing crisis in the region, especially what is happening in Syria.

Regarding the Russia-Ukraine dispute, he said that Iran can play a more highlighted role in strengthening Europe's energy security with exporting gas and oil to Europe.

Before the mid-2012 sanctions, the EU was 18 percent of Iran's oil export target, but the EU halted importing Iranian oil.

Iran's gas reserves rank first place in the world and it's expected the country will boost gas output by at least 300 mcm per days after implementation of giant South Pars gas field's remaining phases due for completion in 2020.

Iran and P5+1 aim to continue their talks to reach a final agreement to fully resolve the decade-old dispute over the Islamic Republic's nuclear energy 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, but is using nuclear energy for medical research instead.

Edited by C.N.

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