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Iran’s president asks Zarif to continue as foreign minister

TEHRAN: Iranian Presi­dent Hassan Rouhani rejected Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif’s resignation on Wednesday, saying the departure of the public face of the Islamic republic’s detente with the West would be against its best interests.

Zarif’s abrupt announcement on Instagram late on Monday that he was quitting had sparked rumours of mass resignations in the country’s diplomatic corps and a petition from parliament urging Rouhani to turn it down.

“I believe your resignation is against the country’s interests and do not approve it,” Rouhani wrote in a letter to Zarif, according to the government’s official website.

In his few public comments after his resignation, Zarif had complained that the work of the foreign ministry was being undermined by political interference and expressed determination to see it regain its proper statutory role.

The last straw appears to have been his exclusion from meetings with visiting Syrian President Bashar al-Assad earlier in the day, Iran’s Entekhab news agency reported. State television broadcast images of Zarif carrying out his duties as normal on Wednesday, taking part in the welcoming ceremony for visiting Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashiniyan.

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