EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton met this week with Iranian officials ahead of next week's nuclear talks with the P5-plus-1 -- Britain, China, France, Russia, the United States plus Germany -- in Vienna.
Ashton has led the P5-plus-1 effort though her meeting with female Iranian dissidents on the sidelines of her visit angered Iranian officials.
Mahdi Kouchakzadeh, a member of the Iranian Parliament, said Ashton's meetings were frustrating because she held talks with dissidents convicted of "sedition." Ashton, he said, had overstepped her diplomatic role by meddling in Iran's internal affairs.
"Iran is an independent country and is not a colony of the EU," he was quoted by Iran's semiofficial Mehr News Agency as saying.
Ashton's visit coincided with International Women's Day. She said in her Sunday statement alongside her Iranian counterpart, Javad Zarif, it was "a great privilege to meet with women from Iran."
Iran said the women dissidents were arrested for their role in the uprising that greeted former Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's re-election in 2009.
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