February 28, 2019
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani officially rejected the resignation of Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, which he submitted earlier this week.
“Accepting your resignation would be against the benefit of the country, so I reject it,” Rouhani said in a letter to Zarif published on the government’s website.
Zarif spoke on the phone on Wednesday with his Syrian counterpart, Walid al-Moualem, Fars news agency reported. He also received an invitation from Syrian President Bashar al-Assad to visit Damascus.
The Iranian minister also held a phone discussion with his Pakistani counterpart Shah Mahmood Qureshi and offered mediation between India and Pakistan after the tension between the two countries intensified. He took part in the reception of Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan, who arrived in the Iranian capital on Wednesday morning.
In response to Rouhani’s rejection of his resignation, Zarif said: “I have had no concern other than elevating [our] foreign policy and the credibility of the Foreign Ministry as the person in charge of advancing foreign policy and protecting national interests and people’s rights in the international arena.”
His comments appeared on his Instagram page, as reported by Mehr news agency.
A senior commander of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards said on Wednesday that Zarif was the main figure responsible for Iran’s foreign policy, adding that he enjoyed the support of Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.
Although Zarif did not give specific reasons for his sudden resignation two days ago, Iranian media reports indicated that he took this step as he was not invited to a meeting between Rouhani and Assad in Tehran on Monday.
“The absence of Zarif was the result of a bureaucratic error,” said Qassem Soleimani, commander of the Quds Force in Iran’s Revolutionary Guards.
“There is evidence that there was no intention to exclude Mr. Zarif from this meeting, and I should emphasize that he is the main official of the country’s foreign policy as the foreign minister of the Islamic Republic of Iran,” he remarked.