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Iran’s President rejects resignation of ‘trustworthy’ Zarif

President of Iran Hassan Rouhani, April 4, 2018. (Kremlin.ru/Released)

This article was originally published by Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty and is reprinted with permission.

The Iranian president has rejected Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif’s resignation, saying it was “against the country’s interests.”

“You are trusted by me and the whole Islamic establishment, particularly the supreme leader,” President Hassan Rohani wrote in a letter to Zarif that was posted on the government’s official website on February 27.

“I think your resignation is against the country’s interests and I do not accept it,” said Rohani, who called on his foreign minister to continue his work with “strength” and “courage.”

Zarif, who offered to resign in a message posted on Instagram late on February 25, had not given specific reasons for his resignation.

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But his announcement had come amid mounting pressure from hard-line conservatives who have criticized his role in negotiating a landmark 2015 nuclear deal with world powers.

 

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A post shared by Javad Zarif (@jzarif_ir) on

The United States pulled out of the deal in May 2018 and reimposed crippling sanctions on Iran, fueling a deepening economic crisis and political infighting in the country.

In another show of confidence, General Qassem Soleimani, the commander of the powerful Quds Force within the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC), said that Zarif had the backing of Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

“Zarif is in charge of foreign policy of the Islamic Republic of Iran, and he has been always supported by top officials, including the supreme leader,” the IRGC website quoted Soleimani as saying on February 27.

In an interview published in the Jomhuri Eslami newspaper on February 26, Zarif was quoted as saying that infighting between parties and factions in Iran was a “deadly poison” undermining foreign policy, suggesting he may have offered to quit over pressure from hard-liners.

On February 27, Zarif attended a ceremony to welcome Armenia’s prime minister to Tehran, the semiofficial ISNA news agency reported.

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In an Instagram post, the minister thanked Iranian officials and the nation for their support, saying he has always been committed to serving the country.

“As a modest servant, I have never had any concern but elevating the foreign policy and the status of the foreign ministry,” he wrote.

Meanwhile, Iranian Oil Minister Bijan Zanganeh, another moderate ally of Rohani, on February 27 denied reports that he had also resigned, the semiofficial ISNA news agency reported.