Iran, world powers to huddle at U.N.
September 23, 2013 -- Updated 1828 GMT (0228 HKT)
US Secretary of State John Kerry meets with Egypt's Foreign Minister Nabil Fahmy in New York September 22, 2013.
- Ashton, Iranian diplomat met Monday
- Iran's nuclear aspirations have been controversial
- Hassan Rouhani, Iran's president, says: "End unhealthy rivalries"
(CNN) -- Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif will meet with the group known as the P5 plus 1 on Thursday during his visit to the United Nations, European Union foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton said Monday.
The P5 plus 1 includes Germany and the permanent members of the U.N. Security Council -- the United States, Russia, China, France, and Britain.
There has been friction between Iran and Western nations over the country's nuclear aspirations and Iran's backing of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's regime in that country's civil war.
But world powers have been searching for ways to tackle both topics.
After Zarif sat down with Ashton on Monday morning, she spoke to reporters about her first face-to-face meeting with the diplomat.
"As you know I spoke to him several times over the summer but this was the first opportunity for us to meet face to face," Ashton said. "We talked about a number of important issues, but focused on the nuclear issue. We had a good and constructive discussion."
She said there will be a "short discussion" at the meeting this week. Ashton said she and Zarif agreed that they will meet in October "with our teams in Geneva" Switzerland.
Zarif was to meet with British Foreign Minister William Hague at 3 p.m. Monday in a closed-door meeting, a Western diplomat confirmed.
Iran's new president, Hassan Rouhani, has been making overtures toward the West that some analysts term as a charm offensive and others see as an opportunity for the West and Iran to forge a deal on the country's nuclear weapons.
Tehran says it wants to develop nuclear energy solely for peaceful purposes, but Western nations have long said that Iran is intent on developing nuclear weapons.
The dispute about why Iran is seeking nuclear capability -- for energy or for bombs -- has prompted international sanctions and escalated concerns about additional warfare in the Middle East.
"We must work together to end the unhealthy rivalries and interferences that fuel violence and drive us apart," Rouhani said in an op-ed column last week in the Washington Post.
CNN's Elise Labott and Nick Paton Walsh contributed to this report
Part of complete coverage on
April 18, 2014 -- Updated 1439 GMT (2239 HKT)
Tethered to an IV drip, 71-year-old Shin Young Ja lies under a thin fleece blanket, nursing a broken back and wracked with survivor's guilt.
April 18, 2014 -- Updated 1123 GMT (1923 HKT)
Family members of the missing passengers are pinning slim hopes on floundering air pockets.
April 17, 2014 -- Updated 1614 GMT (0014 HKT)
An Iranian mother slaps and then forgives her 17-year old son's murderer in dramatic scenes at the gallows.
April 16, 2014 -- Updated 1135 GMT (1935 HKT)
An "extraordinary" video shows what looks like the largest and most dangerous gathering of al Qaeda in years.
April 14, 2014 -- Updated 1230 GMT (2030 HKT)
Explore each side's case, reconstructed from Pistorius' court affidavit and the prosecution's case during last year's bail hearing.
April 16, 2014 -- Updated 1237 GMT (2037 HKT)
Mentions of the 1989 Tiananmen Square student protests or political reform are still censored in China.
April 18, 2014 -- Updated 0934 GMT (1734 HKT)
The Hadza are one of the last communities of hunter-gatherers in the world -- but losing their land.
April 19, 2014 -- Updated 0122 GMT (0922 HKT)
In choosing to change a traditional practice, Francis is being as radical as Jesus was in his own time.
April 18, 2014 -- Updated 1113 GMT (1913 HKT)
Too weak. Can't handle pressure. Unattractive to sponsors. Susie Wolff has heard it all.
April 19, 2014 -- Updated 0356 GMT (1156 HKT)
Browse through images you don't always see on news reports from CNN teams around the world.
April 18, 2014 -- Updated 1230 GMT (2030 HKT)
It's like finding a needle in a universe-wide haystack. Researchers have located a planet roughly the size of Earth that could be habitable.
April 18, 2014 -- Updated 0940 GMT (1740 HKT)
Dubai, long champion of all things biggest, longest and most expensive, will soon have some competition from a neighboring country.
Today's five most popular stories