Iran has tasked its foreign ministry with leading planned international nuclear talks. Tehran hopes the ministry, led by career diplomat Mohammad Javad Zarif, will be capable of ending a deadlock in negotiations.
New Iranian President Hassan Rouhani confirmed Thursday that the foreign ministry would assume responsibility for the handling of the sensitive negotiations with the US and other western nations. The report on the president's website gave the official stamp to the policy change, which has been on the cards since Rouhani's inauguration last month.
The ministry will take over control from the Supreme National Security Council led by Saeed Jalili, which has so far achieved little progress in talks. Rouhani is said to believe that under Mohammad Javad Zarif, a veteran, western-educated diplomat, the ministry will have the necessary diplomatic skills to progress in negotiations.
No date has yet been scheduled for the resumption of talks between Iran and the 5+1 group, consisting of the five permanent members of the UN security council - the US, Russia, China, France and Britain - plus Germany. The talks, aimed at reining in Iran's controversial nuclear program, have been stalled since April.
Separate talks between Iran and the UN's atomic watchdog, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), are however set to resume in Vienna on September 27. It will be the first such meeting since Rouhani was sworn in as president.
He has promised that Iran is ready for serious talks on the issue, but has asserted that it will maintain the right to the peaceful use of nuclear energy.
Iran has faced a serious of crippling UN, EU and US sanctions over its refusal to stop enriching uranium. The west fears the process could ultimately lead to Tehran possessing nuclear weapons. Iran maintains its atomic program is purely peaceful.
ccp/tj (AP, dpa, AFP)