EU's Ashton criticized for meeting Iran activists

By the Associated Press | March 10, 2014 | 8:04 AM EDT

In this photo released by the official website of the office of the Iranian Presidency, Iran's President Hassan Rouhani, right, speaks with European Union's foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton, left, in Tehran, Iran, Sunday, March 9, 2014. Ashton said Sunday world powers talk with Iran will not necessary reach a final deal. An unidentified interpreter sits center. (AP Photo/Mohammad Berno, Iranian Presidency Office)

TEHRAN, Iran (AP) — A senior Iranian military official has criticized the European Union's foreign policy chief for meeting women activists during her visit to Iran.

The semi-official Fars news agency on Monday quoted Gen. Masoud Jazayeri, the armed forces' deputy chief of staff, as saying Catherine Ashton's meeting with activists convicted over 2009 post-election unrest was "an interference" in Iran's internal affairs.

Foreign Ministry spokeswoman, Marzieh Afkham, says Iran sent a protest note to the Austrian Embassy for arranging the meeting between Ashton and the activists, including Narges Mohammadi.

Ashton has been in the country since Saturday on a landmark, first visit. She is talking with senior government officials about Tehran's nuclear program after Iran and the six world powers reached an interim deal last year.

Negotiations for a final deal are ongoing.