Iran Deal Boosted Confidence in Diplomacy

Iran Deal Boosted Confidence in DiplomacyIran Deal Boosted Confidence in Diplomacy

In view of nearly two years of negotiations leading to last July's Iran nuclear deal, diplomacy has proved to be a potential, effective model to settle other international disputes, the foreign minister said.

"By accomplishing the nuclear agreement, we showed that diplomacy works and now hope has emerged that other major problems of the international community can be [likewise] resolved," Mohammad Javad Zarif said at an event in the British Parliament on Thursday.

Zarif denounced as "unfair and unjustified" recent modifications to the US visa waiver program and tightened restrictions on visitors to Iran, as well as three other countries, namely Sudan, Syria and Iraq, widely perceived as hotbeds of terrorism, IRNA reported.

"No Iranian national or traveler to Iran has ever committed a terrorist act. This is while countries whose nationals have committed terrorist acts in Europe and the United States have not been subjected to any restriction," he said.

Zarif called on his European counterparts to condemn the "unfair US law" against Iranians.

  Call for Syria Ceasefire

The United Nations on Wednesday suspended the first peace talks in two years aimed at ending nearly five years of war in Syria, halting an effort that seemed doomed from the start as the war raged unabated.

Washington said, however, it was hopeful they would resume by the end of the month and Russia said it expected that no later than Feb. 25.

Zarif called for the talks to resume and for an immediate ceasefire. But he said later that should not mean stopping military operations against "recognized terrorist organizations", naming the Nusra Front and Islamic State.

"Ceasefire, based on everybody's interpretation, does not include giving a breathing space to recognized terrorist organizations. Having a ceasefire is different from letting up the fight against terrorism."

Donors, including world leaders and officials, convened in London on Thursday to tackle the refugee crisis created by the conflict. About $11 billion have been raised for Syrian humanitarian needs over the next four years.

Zarif told the conference that the Islamic Republic has always favored and promoted a political solution to the crisis.

Referring to Iran's contributions so far to displaced Syrians, the top diplomat said, "We feel committed to continue supplying humanitarian aid."

  Zarif's Meetings in London

Zarif separately met top foreign officials on the sidelines of the event, including UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, Kuwaiti Emir Jaber Al-Ahmad Al-Sabah and Swedish Foreign Minister Margot Wallstrom.

Ban thanked Iran's "constructive" role in aiding the Syria diplomatic process and urged regional countries to join ranks against terrorism and help address tensions across the region.

Since President Hassan Rouhani took office in 2013, there have been contacts between Iranian and British officials aimed at normalizing bilateral relations severed after the 2011 storming of the British Embassy in Tehran by protesters outraged by Britain's decision to intensify sanctions.

In late August, the two sides formally reopened their embassies.

After talks with his British counterpart Philip Hammond on Friday, Zarif said the two countries' missions will resume issuance of visas for "ordinary" applicants in the coming weeks.