EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Catherine Ashton will be paying a visit to Iran in the coming weeks.
Ashton announced the visit during a press conference in Kuwait, Russia’s RIA Novosti reported Monday.
Earlier this week, Iranian Deputy Abbas Araqchi said Ashton was invited to visit Iran by the P5+1 group hoping to reach a final-status deal with the Islamic Republic over its nuclear program.
Meanwhile Monday, Hezbollah Secretary-General Hassan Nasrallah met with Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif.
According to the Hezbollah-affiliated news station al-Manar, Nasrallah and Zarif met in Lebanon along with Zarif’s entourage and Iran’s Ambassadort to Lebanon Ghazanfar Roknabadi.
Earlier on Monday, Iranian reformers and moderate conservatives welcomed an agreement Monday between their government and six world powers on how to implement a nuclear deal struck in November, saying it will shore up Iran’s sanctions-hit economy.
However, hardliners inside the Islamic Republic remained in opposition.
The six-nation group — the five permanent members of the UN Security Council plus Germany — and Iran agreed to start implementing the terms of the historic interim deal from Jan. 20. That will start a six-month clock for a final deal to be struck over Tehran’s contested nuclear program.
Alaeddin Boroujerdi, head of the parliament’s National Security and Foreign Policy Committee, said that enforcing the deal opens new windows for Iran and paves the way for expanding its economic dealings with the outside world.
“By enforcing the deal, there will be some openings for Iran’s economy and restrictions will be eased,” said Boroujerdi, a moderate conservative. “Economic sanctions will reduce and the way will be paved for expansion of economic activities.”
Iran’s hard-liners have called the deal a “poisoned chalice,” challenging moderate President Hassan Rouhani and Zarif with the task of trying to convince skeptics that they are not compromising on key issues of national sovereignty.
Speaking in Beirut, Zarif said that the issue has more to do with a lack of trust inside Iran than the nuclear program itself.
“There is a very serious confidence deficit vis-a-vis the west in Iran. Our people believe that our peaceful nuclear program has been dealt with in a totally unfounded way,” Zarif said. “Hopefully once we resolve this issue we can move forward with better confidence.”
Under the deal, Iran has agreed to halt its enrichment of uranium to 20 percent, a level just steps away from weapons-grade material, but will continue enrichment up to 5 percent. It also will convert half of its stockpile of 20 percent enriched uranium to oxide and dilute the remaining half to 5 percent.
In exchange, no new sanctions will be imposed against Iran and the current sanctions would be eased for a period of six months as talks continue for a permanent deal.
The November deal allows Iran access to $4.2 billion in revenues blocked in foreign banks that can’t be transferred because of sanctions. Tehran would receive the first $550 million installment February 1.
Under the accord, sanctions on petrochemical products, the auto industry, passenger aircraft parts and services as well as the trade in gold will be lifted but the main oil and banking sanctions will remain in place.
Iran says it will carry out its obligations including neutralizing its stockpile of 20 percent enriched uranium gradually within six months, not all at once.