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Iran FM due in Moscow ahead amid nuclear talks

Iran's Foreign Minister is expected to head to Russia next week to discuss bilateral relations and cooperation between the two states

AFP , Friday 22 Aug 2014
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Views: 391

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif will visit ally Moscow next week, the Islamic republic's ambassador to Russia wrote on Facebook Friday, media reports said.

Mehdi Sanaei said that Zarif will travel on August 29 to meet his counterpart Sergei Lavrov, saying only that their talks would focus on bilateral, regional and international issues.

However, Iran is currently engaged in negotiations with the five permanent members of the UN Security Council plus Germany -- known as P5+1 -- on securing an agreement with world powers on its controversial nuclear programme.

Iran and the P5+1 signed an interim deal last November and are in discussions to secure a more permanent accord. The target date for a final deal has been put back to November 24.

By August 25 Tehran must also respond to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) on decade-old allegations of past nuclear weapons research. Tehran denies it wants nuclear weapons, insisting it is pursuing atomic energy purely for peaceful purposes.

Last year's key deal partly froze Iran's nuclear activities in return for minor sanctions relief but the gap between the two sides remains large.

While some differences have been reconciled, disagreements remain over how much uranium Iran would be allowed to enrich and on the lifting of international economic sanctions.

A new round of talks between the two sides is expected before the UN General Assembly starts on September 16.

A historic accord would see Iran scale back its nuclear activities and in return Tehran would be granted relief from painful UN and Western sanctions. Such a deal could finally put an end to a standoff that has been threatening to escalate into a war since 2002.

Russia and Iran are also engaged in talks on an agreement on exchanging Iranian oil for Russian goods and technology. Negotiations of this contract are due to begin in Tehran on September 9.

Senior Russian officials have stressed that such deliveries do not go against the sanctions imposed by the UN on Iran over its nuclear programme.

Moscow is also subject to European and American sanctions for its support for the pro-Russian rebellion in Ukraine.

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