Iran nuclear talks to continue on fringes of U.N. assembly: Ashton

Reuters
Ashton looks on as she peaks during a news conference at the end of an informal meeting of the EU Foreign Affairs Ministers in Milan
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European Union foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton looks on as she peaks during a news conference at …

MILAN (Reuters) - The six global powers will discuss ways to reach a comprehensive nuclear deal with Iran on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly in New York in September, the European Union's foreign policy chief said on Saturday.

Talks aimed at curbing Iran's nuclear programme in exchange for ending sanctions began in February. But Iran and the six powers involved failed to meet an initial self-imposed July 20 deadline to negotiate a deal.

The six, comprising Britain, China, France, Germany, Russia and the United States and known as the P5+1, have agreed to extend negotiations until Nov. 24.

Catherine Ashton, the EU's top diplomat, is expected to continue to lead nuclear negotiations with Iran even as she leaves her EU job at the end of October.

"There are ongoing discussions on that (Iran nuclear issue)," Ashton told a news conference when asked if nuclear talks would take place in New York around mid-September.

"We will use the opportunity of the General Assembly in New York to also do that," Ashton, speaking at the end of a two-day informal gathering of EU foreign ministers in Milan that discussed the situation in Ukraine, Iraq and the Middle East.

Ashton is due to meet Iran Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif in Brussels on Monday.

This year's U.N. General Assembly starts in New York on Sept. 16. The Iran nuclear discussions are expected to begin among senior foreign ministry officials the same week and may continue at ministerial level at the annual assembly gathering of world leaders, which begins on Sept. 24.

In a signal there should be no evasion of the sanctions while nuclear talks continue, the United States on Friday penalised a number of Iranian and other foreign companies, banks and airlines for violating sanctions against Tehran.

Iran said on Saturday that new U.S. sanctions placed on some Iranian and foreign banks and businesses would have negative consequences on its nuclear negotiations with world powers.

(Reporting by Lisa Jucca; Editing by Raissa Kasolowsky)

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