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Iran’s Zarif to Meet EU FMs Ahead of Nuclear Talks

FILE - Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif (2nd-L) is seen walking with his counterparts from the P5+1 group in Vienna, Austria, Nov. 24, 2014.

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohamed Javad Zarif is to meet several of his European Union counterparts Monday, before the June 30 deadline for an international accord on Tehran's nuclear program.

The final round of talks on the Iranian nuclear program are to begin later in the week.

The French news agency reports an unidentified EU source says the meeting with Britain's Philip Hammond, France's Laurent Fabius and Germany's Frank-Walter Steinmeier will be a political meeting ahead of the final negotiations.

The talks will be held on the sidelines of a full meeting of EU foreign ministers, which will discuss extending sanctions against Russia over the Ukraine conflict and the launch of a naval operation targeting people-traffickers in the Mediterranean.

After a meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu Sunday in Jerusalem, France's Fabius said an Iran agreement must be extremely firm, robust and verifiable.

Iran reached a framework nuclear deal with the United States, Russia, China, France, Britain and Germany on April 2. The parties are aiming for a final agreement in which Iran would restrict its nuclear program in exchange for relief from economic sanctions.

France has held a hard line in pressing for limits to prevent Iran acquiring a nuclear weapons capability, although Tehran denies seeking one.

A senior French diplomat says the powers were not thinking about a long-term extension to the talks and were focused on reaching a deal around the June 30 deadline.

Meanwhile, Iran's parliament voted Sunday to ban access to military sites, documents and scientists as part of a future deal with world powers over its contested nuclear program.

The terms stipulated in the bill allow for international inspections of Iranian nuclear sites, but forbid any inspections of military facilities.

Iran's nuclear negotiators say they already have agreed to grant U.N. inspectors "managed access'' to military sites under strict control and specific circumstances. That right includes allowing inspectors to take environmental samples around military sites.

The U.S. State Department says inspections remain a key part of any final deal.