Iranian president rejects Foreign Minister Zarif's resignation

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif on Wednesday expressed regret over recent clashes between India and Pakistan, asking the two countries to exercise self-restraint.

Zarif, acting on Rouhani's instructions, negotiated the 2015 nuclear deal that saw sanctions on Iran lifted in return from it dismantling the weapons-capable aspects of its nuclear development program.

Zarif abruptly tendered his resignation on Instagram on Monday, seemingly over being left out of meetings with visiting Syrian President Bashar Assad earlier in the day, Iran's Entekhab news agency reported.

The pressure has only intensified since US President Donald Trump abandoned the deal in May a year ago and reimposed crippling US sanctions.

On Tuesday, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, welcomed Zarif's departure.

The pointman for Iran's engagement in Syria and Iraq, where it has played a major role in training paramilitaries for both countries' successful campaigns against the jihadists of the Islamic State group, said Zarif was in full charge of Iranian foreign policy.

"Mr Zarif is in charge of the foreign policy of the Islamic Republic and has always been supported by the top officials", Mr Soleimani, the head of the Quds Force - the extra-territorial branch of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps - was quoted as saying by Fars news agency.

"The reports that the president has accepted Dr. Zarif's resignation are strongly rejected", Vaezi said in a post on his Twitter account. One of his allies said his resignation was motivated by criticism of the nuclear agreement, which has come under increasingly intense fire in Iran since the United States abandoned it previous year. Lawmakers representing the majority moderate faction sent Rouhani a letter asking him to keep Zarif on, IRNA reported.

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.

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

"If he (Khamenei) publicly backs Zarif and Rouhani, this crisis will be over in a good way and it will narrow the gap between different political camps in the country", said an official.

  • Rogelio Becker