Iran, EU can enhance strategic ties: Rouhani

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Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani has called for the continuation of nuclear talks between Iran and the six major world powers, saying Tehran and the European Union (EU) can improve strategic ties.

“Having properly passed through the current stage, we will reach a climate where the two sides will face very important and strategic issues and in that atmosphere Iran and the European Union can have strategic ties with each other for example in the fields of energy and transit,” Rouhani said in a meeting with EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton in Tehran on Sunday.

“Iran and the European Union can hold talks and have cooperation on regional issues including the fight against terrorism and extremism, the issues of Afghanistan, Syria and Iraq and narcotics trafficking,” the Iranian president added.

He noted that Iran and the EU have great interests, objectives and common ground for cooperation and expressed Tehran’s readiness to revive bilateral economic relations and negotiations on issues of mutual interest.

The Iranian administration is determined to have constructive interaction with all world countries based on mutual interests and respect, Rouhani said, adding that Iran is keen to establish new ties with EU states.

He reiterated that Iran and the 28-nation bloc can cooperate in diverse areas in the sensitive Middle East region and in the international scene and expressed hope that the two sides would manage to “take new and serious steps” towards strengthening cooperation in all such fields.

Pointing to her visit to Iran, the EU top official, for her part, said she carries the goodwill message of 28 European countries.

Ashton added that her visit represented the first opportunity for holding talks with Iranian officials on topics other than just the nuclear issue, noting that this could be a new beginning in the expansion of ties between Iran and the EU.

She said the EU completely acknowledges the important role of Iran in the region and is ready to develop more dynamic ties with the country.

Also on Monday, the EU foreign policy chief held talks with Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, Majlis Speaker Ali Larijani, Ali Akbar Velayati, who is a top advisor to Leader of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei, Secretary of the Supreme National Security Council (SNSC) Ali Shamkhani and former SNSC secretary Saeed Jalili.

She also attended a joint press conference with the Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif.

Heading a politico-economic delegation, Ashton arrived in Tehran on Saturday to hold talks on Iran’s nuclear energy program and relations with the European Union.

Ashton’s trip comes upon a January invitation by the Iranian foreign minister.

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