Iran's Zarif spoke on phone with his Pakistani counterpart, urged restraint: ISNA

Iran's Zarif spoke on phone with his Pakistani counterpart, urged restraint: ISNA

Kerry Wise
February 28, 2019

A USA -educated career diplomat, Zarif led Iran's negotiating team during lengthy talks with the US and other world powers that culminated in the 2015 Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, or "Iran deal", which lifted some sanctions against the Islamic Republic in exchange for commitments on its nuclear enrichment program.

The report on Wednesday comes after Zarif's sudden resignation late on Monday night.

"Zarif is gone. Good riddance", Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Tuesday.

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo had tweeted that it made no difference to Washington, whether Zarif stays or goes.

Zarif also got support from Maj.

In an Instagram post, Zarif said "as a modest servant, I have never had any concern but elevating the foreign policy and the status of the foreign ministry".

Zarif gave no reason for his decision to quit.

He said he therefore could not accept the resignation as it would not be in the national interest.

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"There were closed-door meetings every week, where top officials were bombarding him with questions about the deal and what will happen next and so on", a Zarif ally told Reuters on condition of anonymity. President Donald Trump previous year pulled the USA out of the landmark 2015 nuclear agreement that was supposed to herald an end to Iran's worldwide isolation.

About 150 Iranian lawmakers, or a third of the chamber, signed a letter addressed to the president petitioning to keep Zarif in his role, state-run media reported.

Rouhani's chief of staff Mahmoud Vaezi said Rouhani stood by Zarif.

In a letter on Tuesday, the parliamentarians have asked the president to encourage Zarif to remain in his post.

Though the rest of the parties to the the nuclear accord - Britain, France, Russia, China, and Germany - have said they will maintain the deal along with Iran, they have difficulties overcoming the United States sanctions, which have impacted the Iranian economy, causing its rial currency to plummet.

Mr Rouhani released a statement today to the main state news agency warmly praising Mohammad Javad Zarif and, even more significantly, said Mr Zarif had the backing of the supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, suggesting that the pair had by default or design won a significant battle with hardliners. Although Rouhani is responsible for choosing ministers, Khamenei traditionally has the last say.

Emtedad also quotes its source as saying that president Rouhani also clearly opposes Zarif's resignation. Rouhani has warned that the country is facing the worst economic crisis in 40 years.