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Ireland FM meets Iran's President Rouhani amid plans to reopen embassy

Ireland’s Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade, Simon Coveney [EU2017EE Estonian Presidency/Wikipedia]
Ireland’s Minister for Foreign Affairs, Simon Coveney [EU2017EE Estonian Presidency/Wikipedia]

Irish Foreign Minister Simon Coveney has met with his Iranian counterpart, Javad Zarif, and President Hassan Rouhani as part of an official visit to Tehran to discuss the stalled nuclear deal between Iran and EU members of the UN Security Council.

The deal formally known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) was signed between Iran and the five permanent members of the Security Council and Germany in 2015.

However, talks were put on hold after former US President Donald Trump withdrew from the deal and imposed "unprecedented" sanctions on Iran, although the EU has sought to maintain its commitment to the JCPOA. It is hoped that the talks could be revived under the current administration of President Joe Biden.

READ: Iran's Zarif to offer 'constructive' plan amid hopes of informal nuclear talks

Rouhani has criticised the EU signatories of the agreement for their inaction towards their commitments. "The best way to solve problems with European partners at different bilateral, regional, and international levels are negotiations based on mutual respect and the avoidance of any threat or pressure," he said.

Coveney said in a statement issued on Friday that "Ireland is a strong supporter of the JCPOA. In our role as Facilitator, Ireland is keen to maintain a close dialogue with all actors, and encourage all parties to return to full compliance with the agreement."

Last year Ireland was elected to take a seat at the Security Council for a two-year term which started early this year. In recent years, Ireland has also been increasing trade and its diplomatic profile in the Middle East as part of its Global Ireland 2025 Strategy unveiled in 2018. It has been argued that Ireland's lack of a colonial legacy has enabled it to form ties with countries hostile to the interests of Western powers.

The meeting in Tehran also follows a warming of diplomatic ties between Dublin and Iran, following a round of bilateral talks held via video conference last month and reports last week that Iran is planning to reopen its embassy in Tehran by 2023. Coveney said: "As part of our Global Ireland strategy, Ireland made a commitment to double our global impact by 2025. In that context, the Government has decided to re-establish an Irish diplomatic presence in Iran."

READ: Iran rejects EU offer to mediate in nuclear talks with Washington

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