TEHRAN, Nov. 20 (UPI) -- Preparations for direct flights between Iran and the United States are under way and could start this year, Ali Mohammed Nourian, an Iranian minister, said.
"The required preparations have been made and if negotiations in the coming days move in a positive direction, we will be ready to launch the flights by the end of 2013," Nourian, deputy minister for roads and urban development, told a press conference in Tehran Tuesday.
Nourian's comments followed the latest round of P5-plus-1 talks between Iran and Russia, China, France, Britain, the United States and Germany in Geneva, Switzerland, involving Iran's nuclear program, the Tasnim News Agency said.
"Given the positive outlook of our government and the international talks, we hope that this issue is soon settled so that the Iranian fellow citizens in the U.S. could travel between the two countries with greater ease," he said.
The news agency noted the U.S. Treasury bars Iranian airlines from operating or landing in the United States and sanctions imposed by the West on the Islamic Republic prevent European airports from providing Iranian carriers with fuel or accepting payment. Iranian Airlines, however, can travel to London directly though need to refuel in Slovenia, the agency said.