AFP: Iran’s foreign minister will make a two-day visit to Greece next week as Tehran prepares to resume talks with Western powers over its contested nuclear programme, Greek officials said on Friday.
ATHENS (AFP) — Iran’s foreign minister will make a two-day visit to Greece next week as Tehran prepares to resume talks with Western powers over its contested nuclear programme, Greek officials said on Friday.
Manouchehr Mottaki will be in Athens on Monday and Tuesday and is scheduled to meet counterpart Dimitris Droutsas and Greek President Carolos Papoulias, the Greek foreign ministry said in a statement.
A ministry source told AFP that Mottaki’s visit is “well-timed” given the relaunch of the nuclear talks which had been stalled for over a year.
The talks will restart in Geneva on December 6 and 7, the office of the European Union’s chief diplomat Catherine Ashton announced on Tuesday.
English baroness Ashton is to lead the “5+1” nations negotiating with Iran made up of the five permanent members of the UN Security Council (the United States, Russia, China, France, and Britain) and Germany.
The Iranian delegation will be headed by chief negotiator Said Jalili.
The United States, Europe and Israel fear that Iran wants to use nuclear technology to build a bomb but Tehran insists that its programme is a peaceful drive to produce civilian energy.
Iran is under four sets of UN sanctions over its refusal to suspend uranium enrichment, the sensitive process which can be used to make nuclear fuel or, in highly extended form, the fissile core of an atom bomb.
Greece has cultivated close ties with Iran in recent years whilst also trying lately to build bridges with its arch-rival Israel. It also has a long history of good relations with the Arab world.
Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou met with Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in September on the sidelines of a United Nations general assembly, two months after the EU imposed economic sanctions on Tehran.