EU Seeks Energy Deals by 2016

EU Seeks Energy Deals by 2016EU Seeks Energy Deals by 2016

The European Union should start high-level talks with Iran on energy and trade by the beginning of 2016, EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini told a closed-door meeting of EU policymakers.

The day after a deal on Iran's nuclear program was sealed this month, Mogherini told the European Commission to start preparing for renewed economic links with Iran, according to minutes of the meeting on July 15, seen by Reuters.

Mogherini met Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif in Tehran this week to discuss implementation of the nuclear agreement. Zarif said that deal had opened the way for talks with the EU about wider questions "including energy cooperation ... human rights, confronting terrorism and regional issues".

Mogherini told the commission it should "provide support for preparing the resumption of economic and trade relations with Iran following the lifting of the international sanctions, once the agreement (has) entered into force," the minutes said.

The commission expects the nuclear deal to take effect "towards the end of the year".

With this calendar in mind, Mogherini proposed "an official visit to Iran by several members of the commission at the end of the year or at the start of 2016 to discuss a number of subjects of common interest with the Iranian authorities, such as trade, research, energy and culture," the minutes say.

EU countries have already started bilateral talks with Iran. German Vice Chancellor Sigmar Gabriel flew there a few days after the deal, becoming the first senior figure from a large western government to visit since the accord.

On July 29, Iranian Oil Minister Bijan Zanganeh announced "a new chapter of cooperation" with the French energy company Total after a meeting in Tehran with France's Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius.