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Austrian politicians press Iranian foreign minister

Austrian foreign policy politicians who met with Iran's foreign minister this week say that Javad Zarif agreed there was room for improvement in Iran's human rights record.

The meeting took place in private but following the event, Green party MP Alev Korun said:
"He did not have a negative view on the situation in his country but noted that human rights can still be improved everywhere."

Iranian Foreign Minister Zarif is in Vienna for the ongoing talks over Iran's nuclear programme and human rights record, as well as discussions about trade sanctions placed by the West on the country.

Iran had recently come out against Austria, a country with which it has historically had a better relationship with than other European countries, after the Austrian embassy in the Islamic republic helped to arrange a meeting between European Union foreign policy head Catherine Ashton and Iranian human rights activists a few weeks ago.

Some Austrian politicians were impressed with Zarif's apparent transparency, with OeVP politician Werner Amon saying that he appeared keen to reform in the area of human rights.

Regarding Iran's death penalty Amon also said the group got the impression that "there will soon be dramatic changes for the better".

Iran has defended its death penalty policy in the meeting, saying it has only been used for drug traffickers although critics argue it is used against political enemies, something Iran denies.

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