Iranian FM to visit France ahead of Geneva nuclear talks

AFP , Wednesday 30 Oct 2013

Iranian FM Mohammad Javad Zarif to hold talks with his French counterpart, the first of its kind between both countries since Rouhani was voted president

Iran's Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif will visit France next week to deliver a speech at UNESCO, ahead of nuclear talks in Geneva with world powers, media reported Wednesday.

Zarif, the first Iranian foreign minister to visit France in years, will also hold talks with French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius in Paris, the official IRNA news agency said.

Relations between Tehran and Paris sharply deteriorated under former hardline president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad but ties between Iran and the West have been witnessing a thaw since the election in June of his moderate successor Hassan Rouhani.

French President Francois Hollande met Rouhani in September on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly in New York, where Zarif and Fabius also hold a meeting.

France was an important economic partner of Iran until 2000, but later it campaigned for the adoption of oil and banking sanctions against Iran over its disputed nuclear programme.

After the punitive sanctions imposed on Iran, many foreign companies, especially the French automakers Peugeot, withdrew from the Iranian market.

Iran and the so-called P5 +1 group -- the United States, Britain, France, China and Russia, plus Germany -- have resumed talks in mid-October to try and resolve the nuclear dispute.

The are due to meet again in Geneva on November 7-8.

In October, Iran presented to the P5+1 a new proposal that chief negotiator Abbas Araqchi said could settle the decade-long dispute "within a year".

Zarif will be addressing the United Nations Education, Scientific and Cultural Organisation's as it meets for its 37th general conference.

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