BRUSSELS, March 10 (Xinhua) -- EU foreign affairs chief Catherine Ashton has called for closer relations with Iran on condition that a permanent accord on Iran's nuclear program is reached, EUobserver reported Monday.
Ashton told a press conference in Tehran at the weekend the nuclear negotiations taking place in Vienna were "difficult, challenging" and "there is no guarantee (they) will succeed," the online newspaper quoted her as saying.
"Thinking about some of the issues in the region, for example the real challenges of the drug trade from Afghanistan, Iran faces real difficulties there. There are ways in which we could work together to try and address that," Ashton said on her first visit to Iran.
Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Zarif said he hoped a permanent nuclear accord could be reached "in four or five months."
Ashton's Iran visit, the first by a head of EU foreign affairs since 2008, comes after a series of visits by EU countries' foreign ministers and European Parliament members in recent months as bilateral relations warm.