Ex-Diplomat Questions Motives of FM's Critics

Ex-Diplomat Questions Motives of FM's Critics
Ex-Diplomat Questions Motives of FM's Critics

A former diplomat has cast doubts over the intentions of those people who have criticized Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif's walk with US Secretary of State John Kerry in Geneva, saying such efforts are aimed at "thwarting a successful settlement" of Iran's nuclear dispute with the West.

Ali Khorram told IRNA, "From the very beginning since President Hassan Rouhani assumed office, there were forces who mobilized their energy and resources to disrupt the negotiations (with the major powers on Tehran's nuclear program)."

"Zarif violated no diplomatic norms" as such actions are "customary" based on the norms of international relations, he commented.  

The lawmakers signed a petition to summon Zarif to parliament following a controversy over a promenade with his American counterpart during the recent nuclear talks in Geneva.

Zarif, who leads Tehran's talks with the P5+1 (the five permanent members of the UN Security Council plus Germany) had a 15-minute walk down Geneva sidewalks with the US secretary of state on January 14 during the talks which aimed to narrow the differences between Iran and its international negotiating partners to reach a long-term settlement to a 12-year nuclear dispute.  

Media images of the top diplomats strolling together in a foreign land drew the ire of conservative parliamentarians.  

"Given the Great Satan's (the United States) endless demands and sabotage during the course of the nuclear negotiations, there is no conceivable ground for intimacy between the foreign ministers of Iran and America," said the petition signed by 21 lawmakers, IRNA reported.

"Your exhibitionist walk together with (Kerry) along Geneva sidewalks was certainly outside the norms of diplomacy, so why don't you put a stop to such behavior?"

Tehran and Washington severed diplomatic ties after the 1979 Islamist Revolution, establishing tentative direct contact on specific cases such as the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, and more recently as part of the nuclear talks between Iran and the P5+1, which have been underway since President Rouhani's took office in 2013.

  Latest in a Series of Summons   

The row over the diplomatic stroll is the latest in a series of summons since Zarif took charge of the nuclear file in late 2013.

Early this month, the parliament called a snap vote over Zarif's handling of nuclear talks with the six major powers. The conservative lawmakers had accused the minister of making too many concessions in a round of diplomacy in December.

After answering seven questions posed by 40 lawmakers, Zarif won the support of a little more than half of the 229 lawmakers present, out of the 290-strong parliament.    

No repercussions were attached to the vote, but a loss would have damaged the credibility of the foreign minister and, by extension, President Hassan Rouhani.

The parliament had also summoned Zarif last December to provide explanations on his comments that the United States can "wipe out Iran's defense systems with just one bomb" while 20 members of parliament had even asked President Rouhani to remove the foreign minister from his post.

Zarif had said at the University of Tehran that Iran's strength does not come from its military power but from its people.