Speaking after a New York meeting with his counterparts from the so-called Iran Six group of mediators – Britain, China, France, Germany, Russia and the United States – Zarif called all the existing sanctions against Iran "counterproductive" and said they should be lifted as the negotiations go ahead.
The Iranian foreign minister praised the “constructive” atmosphere of the talks and expressed hope for quick progress in future nuclear negotiations.
EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton, who hosted the talks in New York, described the meeting as “substantial” and “energetic.” She said the diplomats agreed to hold a new round of negotiations on Iran’s nuclear program on October 15-16 in Geneva.
Western countries suspect Iran of using its nuclear program to develop atomic weapons, a claim that Iran has consistently denied. Tehran insists it needs atomic technology for producing electricity, although it has some of the world's largest reserves of oil and gas.
Iran is under four sets of economic sanctions in line with UN resolutions as well as a number of sanctions imposed by some Western countries unilaterally.
Washington said in August that the United States was prepared to work with Iran’s new government if it chooses “to engage substantively and seriously to meet its international obligations and find a peaceful solution to this issue.”