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
July 12, 2014 -- Updated 0008 GMT (0808 HKT)
A makeup artist, writer and model who loves monkeys and struggles with demons.
July 11, 2014 -- Updated 1342 GMT (2142 HKT)
Lionel Messi's ability is not in question -- but will the World Cup final allow him to emerge from another footballing legend's shadow?
July 11, 2014 -- Updated 1029 GMT (1829 HKT)
Why are Iraqi politicians dragging their feet while ISIS militants fortify their foothold across the country?
July 11, 2014 -- Updated 1332 GMT (2132 HKT)
An elephant, who was chained for 50 years, cries tears of joy after being freed in India. CNN's Sumnima Udas reports.
July 11, 2014 -- Updated 0732 GMT (1532 HKT)
Beneath a dusty town in northeastern Pakistan, CNN explores a cold labyrinth of hidden tunnels that was once a safe haven for militants.
July 10, 2014 -- Updated 2249 GMT (0649 HKT)
CNN's Ravi Agrawal asks whether Narendra Modi can harness the country's potential to finally deliver growth.
July 10, 2014 -- Updated 0444 GMT (1244 HKT)
CNN's Ben Wedeman visits the Yazji family and finds out what it's like living life in the middle of conflict.
July 9, 2014 -- Updated 1423 GMT (2223 HKT)
Israel has deployed its Iron Dome defense system to halt incoming rockets. Here's how it works.
Even those who aren't in the line of fire feel the effects of the chaos that has engulfed Iraq since extremists attacked.
CNN joins the fight to end modern-day slavery by shining a spotlight on its horrors and highlighting success stories.
Browse through images from CNN teams around the world that you don't always see on news reports.
July 11, 2014 -- Updated 1634 GMT (0034 HKT)
Plane passengers are used to paying additional fees, but one airport in Venezuela is now charging for the ultimate hidden extra -- air.
Today's five most popular stories