Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif and his British counterpart William Hague have held talks in New York with the British side saying London is " open " to improved ties with Tehran.
“The United Kingdom does not seek a confrontational relationship with Iran and is open to better relations. The United Kingdom welcomes President Rouhani and Foreign Minister Zarif’s recent statements about Iran’s wish to improve its relations with the outside world,” Hague said after the meeting on the sidelines of the 68th UN General Assembly. He also said he "was pleased" to meet Zarif, underlining the need for progress on Iran’s nuclear issue. Zarif, in turn, expressed hopes that planned foreign-ministerial-level talks between Iran and the P5+1 (five permanent members of the UN Security Council plus Germany) on Thursday would be a forward step to resolve Iran’s nuclear issue. Zarif also said the “illegal” western sanctions against Iran are ineffectual and only targeted at the Iranian people. “The west needs to take a new look at the matters,” he stressed. Iran’s foreign policy chief also welcomed the developments that averted a war on Syria and warned of the risks to the wider region and the world if extremist groups in the country lay hands on chemical weapons. On Syria, Hague said the two sides recognized the need for peace in the Middle Eastern country “where Iran could play a constructive role” including by supporting the proposed Geneva negotiations between President Bashar al-Assad government and the foreign-backed militants.