VIENNA, Oct. 14 (UPI) -- European Union foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton met with Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif Tuesday evening in Vienna ahead of the start of the eighth round of Iranian nuclear negotiations.
The latest round of negotiations is set to begin this week in Vienna with delegates from the P5+1 countries -- the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council (Britain, China, France, Russia and the United States) plus Germany -- working toward a comprehensive Iranian nuclear agreement.
Ashton and Zarif met at Iran's diplomatic mission in Austria before the official start of the talks. Her spokesman tweeted a photo of their meeting.
Zarif earlier this month complained the delegates to the talks placed "excessive demands" on Iran.
Although it is unclear what those "excessive demands" are, U.S. officials have repeatedly pressed Iran for guarantees that its nuclear program will remain peaceful and not be used as a weapon. In July, as talks stalled, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry sought concrete assurances from Zarif, "not just to declare that they will not obtain a nuclear weapon, but to demonstrate in the actions they take beyond any reasonable doubt that any Iranian nuclear program, now and going forward, is exclusively for peaceful purposes."
The delegates have until the self-imposed deadline of Nov. 24 to reach agreement.