A meeting between Iran’s top diplomats and world powers at the United Nations this week will start a “new era” in efforts to end the dispute with the West over Tehran’s disputed nuclear programme, the Iranian foreign ministry said on Tuesday.
It did not hint at any concessions by Tehran.
The European Union said on Monday Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif would join a meeting of major powers — including Britain, France, China, Russia and the United States and Germany — to discuss the Iranian nuclear programme.
The meeting, due on Thursday and expected to include US Secretary of State John Kerry, would be the highest-level encounter involving the two nations since relations were severed in 1980 at the height of the US embassy hostage crisis.
The meeting is part of grand diplomatic plan. US President Barack Obama, while delivering his speech at the UN, said Iran’s diplomatic overture in recent weeks could offer the basis for a meaningful agreement on its nuclear programme and his administration is ready to test a difficult “diplomatic path” with the country’s new government.
Obama welcomed statements made by the Iranian supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who has issued a fatwah against the development of nuclear weapons as well as by President Rouhani that the Islamic republic will never develop a nuclear weapon.
Before leaving for New York on Monday, newly elected President Hassan Rouhani said he wanted to present Iran’s “true face” and to pursue talks and cooperation with the West to end the nuclear dispute.
Iran says it is enriching uranium only to fuel a planned network of nuclear power stations, and for medical purposes.
The United States and its allies have imposed tough economic sanctions on Iran over suspicions that it is seeking a nuclear weapons capability.
Refined uranium can provide the fissile material for nuclear bombs if processed further, which the West fears may be Tehran’s ultimate goal given that Tehran has a history of hiding some nuclear activity from UN anti-proliferation inspectors.
US officials have also said a meeting is possible this week between President Barack Obama and Rowhani.