Iran talks go ahead in NZ despite criticism

Iran talks go ahead in NZ despite criticism

Trade sanctions against Iran were only lifted two months ago, but already its Foreign Minister is in New Zealand to talk trade.

And while the relationship is good news for the dairy industry, it's not being welcomed by human rights groups.

It's been more than a decade since a New Zealand hand's been extended to Iran.

For the last decade, the relationship's been cold after the United Nations imposed sanctions, but Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif is aiming to re-build ties.

He's meeting with Minister of Foreign Affairs Murray McCully now, and then Prime Minister John Key tomorrow.

Mr Key says he is looking forward to restoring the trade relationship with Iran.

Before Iran's revolution in the 80s and before the 2006 sanctions, it was one of our biggest trading partners.

In the 1970s, 60 percent of all our lamb exports went there, In the 80s it was considered our fifth biggest trade partner, but just last year our trade was down to just $90 million.

However, while Mr Zarif's jetting around the world on a diplomatic mission -- there's concern with Iran's human rights.

Grant Bayldon of Amnesty International says it needs to be a topic that is confronted when the Prime Minister meets with Mr Zarif tomorrow, and that it needs to be a priority.

Mr Key says it's on the radar.

"We will raise human rights," he says.

It's not just New Zealand human rights groups worried about Iran -- just this afternoon, French organisation Iranian Resistance contacted Newshub.

The group alleges 120,000 political prisoners have been executed in Iran and urges New Zealand to think twice about forming close ties.