TEHRAN (AFP) – Iran said Tuesday there was a “historic” chance to resolve a decade-long showdown over its nuclear ambitions ahead of a much-anticipated meeting of world powers at the United Nations.
“We have a historic opportunity to resolve the nuclear issue,” if world powers adjust to the “new Iranian approach,” Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said in a tweet from New York, where he is attending the U.N. General Assembly.
His comments came a day after he met EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton in New York to discuss restarting nuclear talks with the so-called P5+1 group — the United States, Britain, France, China and Russia plus Germany.
Zarif will join counterparts from the P5+1, including U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, at the U.N. headquarters on Thursday for the first-ever U.S.-Iranian nuclear talks at the ministerial level.
Put on hold since April, the negotiations seek to allay Western and Israeli concerns that Iran is seeking an atomic weapon under the guise of its civilian nuclear drive, a charge adamantly denied by Tehran.
The Islamic state in return wants relief from draconian sanctions which have crippled its ailing economy, leading to a major devaluation of its currency and rising inflation.
Iran’s newly sworn-in President Hassan Rowhani — who has promised constructive engagement with the world — is expected to address the General Assembly later Tuesday.
Speculation has run high that he could have a landmark encounter with U.S. President Barack Obama on the sidelines of the summit, after the White House did not rule out a meeting between the two leaders.