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Iran's Zarif signs Armenia deals, continuing duties

Iran's Zarif signs Armenia deals, continuing duties

Born in 1960, Zarif lived in the United States from the age of 17 as a student in San Francisco and Denver, and subsequently as a diplomat to the United Nations in NY, where he served as Iranian ambassador from 2002 to 2007.

Moments after President Hassan Rouhani rejected Zarif's resignation by deeming it against the country's national interests, the foreign minister in an Instagram post on Wednesday morning thanked the Iranian nation's and officials' generous kindness and support during his tenure, especially in the last three hours.

In a letter to Mr Zarif reported by the state-linked Irna news agency, Mr Rouhani said that he was aware of the pressures placed on the country's diplomats but that he saw the foreign minister as an integral part of the state.

The foreign minister resumed his duties by attending the official welcome ceremony for Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan to Tehran and by speaking on the phone with his Syrian counterpart, Walid al-Moallem.

The president cited Iran's supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei in praising Zarif's work as foreign minister.

The US-educated veteran diplomat helped craft the pact that curbed Iran's nuclear program in return for sanctions relief.

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

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

Soleimani, who was present at both meetings, said Zarif's absence was the result of a bureaucratic mistake.

On Tuesday, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, long a critic of Iran, welcomed his departure.

The schism between hardliners and moderates over the nuclear deal shows the tension in Iran between the two factions, and between the elected government which runs the country on a day-to-day basis and a clerical establishment with ultimate power.

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


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