High-Level EU Talks in Early February

High-Level EU Talks in Early FebruaryHigh-Level EU Talks in Early February

Tehran will host an EU delegation early next month for the first round of high-level consultations, as part of a decision agreed in a July visit to Iran by EU foreign policy chief, Federica Mogherini, a deputy foreign minister said.

"The first round of Iran-EU talks will begin in Tehran in early February, but no exact date has been set yet. The meeting will take place at the level of deputy foreign ministers," Majid Takht-Ravanchi also told ISNA on Wednesday.

"As originally agreed, the talks will be held at six-month intervals in Tehran and Brussels … and will cover a wide range of political, economic, regional and international issues."

Since President Hassan Rouhani took office in 2013, diplomatic efforts have been underway by Iran and Britain to normalize bilateral relations severed after the 2011 storming of the British Embassy in Tehran by protesters prompted by Britain's decision to intensify sanctions.

In late August, the two sides formally reopened their embassies and Rouhani said recently the British mission in Tehran will resume visa services shortly.

***Ups and Downs


"Relations between Iran and Britain have gone through many ups and downs in the past few decades and there is a lot of sensitivity toward the issue [of restoring relations] on both sides," said Takht-Ravanchi, who is the deputy foreign minister for European and American affairs.

Despite the challenge posed by a history of relations marked by deep distrust, "we do not want to dwell on the past, but we'll remain mindful of the past events", the diplomat said.

Britain was among the six powers that negotiated the Iran nuclear accord, which went into effect on January 16 to roll back Tehran's nuclear program in return for relief from EU, UN and US sanctions.

In a phone conversation with British Prime Minister David Cameron earlier this month, Rouhani invited British businesses to invest in the Iranian market in return for transferring their technologies.

"We can use the expertise of the British in various domains. We can develop relations in the fields of economy, trade, banking and finance. As we have repeatedly stressed, the government's foreign economic policy has focused on attracting investment and technology," Takht-Ravanchi said.

"We are determined to move on … Nuclear negotiations provided a great opportunity for contacts between the two countries' ministers and deputy foreign ministers. Such contacts help build better mutual understanding and find mutually beneficial ways to address bilateral issues."

Takht-Ravanchi also said Swiss President Simonetta Sommaruga will visit Iran soon.