Brussels, 15 February 2016
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It is a pleasure for me to officially welcome Foreign Minister Zarif here in Brussels for his official visit to the European Union.
We have had a chance of not only meeting very often, also recently, and to see each other here in Brussels - but that was always in the framework of the negotiations on the JCPOA [The Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action]. This is his first official bilateral visit to the European Union and this is also somehow the result of the fact that we were very successful on the negotiations on the nuclear agreement and the implementation day. I already had several occasions but I would like to reiterate it formally here and congratulate the Minister personally as well as Iran for an excellent work that was done in coordination and cooperation with the IAEA [International Atomic Energy Agency] and the 3+3 and obviously we will continue to work on that.
We will have tonight a bilateral conversation on first of all the EU-Iran bilateral relations. We have been working in this month to re-launch these bilateral relations. I was glad to visit the Minister and being received by the President Rouhani already in July and, as you might know already, here in the [European] Commission, I have started since some months already the preparation for a comprehensive visit from the [European] Commission to Teheran.
I am not in the position of announcing a date tonight but spring, I would say, is a reasonably time to visit Teheran together with other Vice-Presidents of the [European] Commission and Commissioners to explore all different sectors of cooperation between the European Union and Iran.
We believe this would be mutually beneficial for institutions and for our people. We have strong cultural historical ties. We have strong common interests. We have also some fields that will be probably not of complete agreement but we believe that coordination and cooperation will be essential.
Both on the bilateral level and also in the region, we have been working together in the International Syria Support Group. This will be for sure one of the main points of our discussion tonight. The concrete steps that need to be taken to de-escalate the conflict, come to the cessation of hostilities and humanitarian access inside Syria as we agreed all together in Munich just a few days ago and the overall regional architecture as we just discussed the other day in Munich at the Security Conference.
All of this will be tonight as well as other issues where the coordination and cooperation between the European Union and Iran can be fruitful. I think for instance to Afghanistan on which for sure we have a common interest in bringing about stability and security.
I must be forgetting a lot of fields and issues that will be on our agenda tonight but I will stop here and leave the floor to the Minister, again, welcoming you in Brussels for this visit that I am very glad to host.
Link to the video: http://ec.europa.eu/avservices/video/player.cfm?ref=I116489