Zarif met members of parliament’s foreign affairs committee for talks on Iranian relations with the West, its nuclear program, human rights and the situation in Syria, participants said.

Alev Korun, a Greens party MP said she had the chance to discuss the human rights issue with Zarif.

“He did not have a negative view on the situation in his country but noted that human rights can still be improved everywhere,” she said after the hour-and-a-half meeting Behind closed doors.

Werner Fasslabend, a former Austrian government minister said Zarif had also attributed the rise in executions to drug trafficking.

“He also was asked about political executions and he said a clear no, this does not happen…Maybe it may seem sometimes (that way) but political dissidence never is a reason for the death penalty,” Fasslabend recalled Zarif saying.

A United Nations investigator said last week that the Iranian regime is holding almost 900 political prisoners, including people persecuted for religious activities, lawyers and journalists.

Iran has refused to let Dr. Ahmed Shaheed enter Iran, saying its human rights record is good.