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Trump’s Mideast Policy Dangerous, Impulsive

Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif attends the Rome Med conference on Nov. 30. Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif attends the Rome Med conference on Nov. 30.

Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said US President Donald Trump's regional policies need revision, denouncing them as dangerous and misguided.

Speaking during the third edition of the Rome Med conference in the Italian capital on Thursday, Zarif criticized Trump for his bellicose stance toward the 2015 nuclear pact agreed between Iran and major powers and endorsed by the United Nations Security Council.

He also questioned the US response to a crisis between Qatar and its neighbors.

"We have problems with the policies that are coming from Washington and I believe those policies are extremely dangerous, impulsive, not grounded in reality," Zarif said, Reuters reported.

"Generally a revision, or a reorientation, or a cognitive adjustment to our region is highly necessary in Washington."

He said Trump did not understand the nature of the nuclear accord and was trying to dissuade foreign investors from doing business in Iran.

"In spite of the arm twisting, more and more European companies have been coming in," he said.

Zarif led Iran's negotiating team for the nuclear deal and faced criticism from conservatives at home over the terms of the accord.

He said the dissent had faded over the past year, meaning that pressure from Washington had only succeeded in strengthening Tehran's resolve.

***Stronger Solidarity

"The United States' pressure has in fact created more solidarity inside Iran. I am being attacked much less in Iran today than I was before Trump was elected. So I thank him for that," Zarif said.

Trump said in October he would not certify that Tehran was complying with the 2015 deal, reached under his predecessor Barack Obama, and warned he might ultimately terminate it, accusing Iran of "not living up to the spirit" of the accord.

Other signatories of the agreement, namely Britain, France, Germany, Russia, China and the European Union, have said they believe Iran is meeting its commitments.

Zarif also brushed off suggestions Iran should disengage from Syria and denied accusations of meddling.

Iran and the US support rival warring sides in conflicts across the Middle East, from Yemen to Syria and Lebanon, which have also drawn in the West.

"The aim of the US administration is to get Iran out of Syria," Zarif said, as quoted by AFP.

"The US and Russia cannot decide for Iran. We are there at the request of the Syrian government. It's our region; it's the Persian Gulf not the Gulf of Mexico. We are going nowhere."

Zarif criticized certain other countries for "making mistakes, then blaming Iran", adding that Tehran for its part "does not try to exclude regional actors ... because all the regional countries need to work together."

He ruled out a reopening of nuclear negotiations, as demanded by Trump, to toughen and extend restrictions Iran accepted under the landmark nuclear agreement in return for sanctions relief.

"The deal is a balance: it's not what we want, it's not what the US wants or what Europe wants. It's what we could achieve. That's the beauty of it. There are others who think they can come in and negotiate something far better. I can assure you it's the best deal we could have reached or will be able to reach," Zarif said.

"We're talking about open arm-twisting by the US. The nuclear deal was focused on a specific deal. Now people are telling us that in order to have the benefits of the deal, we have to make concessions on other questions. It sends a signal to others that this deal-making is not reliable," he warned.

Zarif's warning came amid reports that Trump is primed to get rid of his Secretary of State Rex Tillerson in part because he has defended the deal.

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