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Iran invites EU's Ashton to visit
by Staff Writers
Tehran (AFP) Jan 11, 2014

EU's Ashton to focus on Syria, Iran in Gulf tour
Brussels (AFP) Jan 11, 2014 - EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton will visit five Gulf nations on a tour of the region next week focusing on the war in Syria, Iran's disputed nuclear programme and Israel-Palestinian peace efforts.

Ashton will visit the United Arab Emirates, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Oman and Qatar on the trip which runs until January 16, according to a diplomatic source.

"We will have the chance to discuss a range of important issues which affect our bilateral relationships," Ashton said in a statement.

These include EU ties with the Gulf Cooperation Council, "as well as pressing regional questions, such as the crisis in Syria, the Middle East Peace Process and the recent agreement ... on the Iranian nuclear programme."

Ashton will hold press conferences on Tuesday in the UAE as well as Kuwait.

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif has invited EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton to visit the Islamic republic, Mehr news agency cited his deputy as saying on Saturday.

"Ashton has received an open invitation from Zarif to travel to Iran whenever she wants," Abbas Araqchi, the deputy negotiator in talks on Iran's disputed nuclear programme, said without giving any dates for the proposed trip.

Ashton's spokesman, Michael Mann, acknowledged the reported invitation.

She has "noted with interest the press reports of a possible invitation for her to visit Tehran," Mann said in Brussels, adding that she "has already indicated that she intends to visit Tehran as the work towards a comprehensive agreement progresses."

Iran and world powers agreed Friday on how to implement a landmark deal on containing Tehran's nuclear programme, but it still must be approved by each country before it can take effect.

"The negotiations were carried out in the atmosphere of mutual understanding and we found solutions for all the three points of disagreement, but the capitals should decide whether they accept or reject the solutions," said Araqchi.

Under the deal clinched in November, Tehran agreed to curb parts of its nuclear drive for six months in exchange for receiving modest relief from international sanctions and a promise by Western powers not to impose new measures against its hard-hit economy.

Two days of talks between high-level Iranian and EU negotiators ended in Geneva Friday with "very good progress on all the pertinent issues," Mann said earlier.

Ashton represents the so-called P5+1 group of world powers -- Britain, China, France, Germany, Russia and the United States -- in the decade-long nuclear negotiations with Iran.


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New talks on Iran nuclear deal to open in Geneva
Geneva (AFP) Jan 09, 2014
Iran and world powers were set for new talks Thursday on how to implement a landmark deal aimed at containing Tehran's nuclear drive, just days before the agreement is due to take effect. Russian President Vladimir Putin and his Iranian counterpart Hassan Rouhani discussed the November accord in a phone conversation Thursday shortly before the opening of the negotiations in Geneva. Iran ... read more

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