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Iran's president rejects resignation of his foreign minister

Iran's president rejects resignation of his foreign minister”

After Rouhani's announcement, the semi-official ISNA news agency reported that Zarif had attended a ceremony to welcome Armenia's prime minister to Tehran.

A news website in Iran, close to the reformist faction of the establishment, reports that Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei has expressed his disagreement with Mohammad Javad Zarif's resignation from the post of foreign minister.

"As the Supreme Leader has described you a "trustworthy, courageous and religious" person in the forefront of resistance against widespread U.S. pressures, I consider accepting your resignation against national interests and reject it", Rouhani said in a letter published on state news agency IRNA.

"Evidence shows that there was no objective behind Mr. Zarif's absence at this meeting, and I should emphasize that he is the main person in charge of the Islamic Republic of Iran's foreign policy as the Foreign Minister", the commander stressed.

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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.

Zarif, a US-educated veteran diplomat, helped craft a pact with world powers in 2015 that curbed Iran's nuclear programme in return for sanctions relief. "As a modest servant I have never had any concern but elevating the foreign policy and the status of the foreign ministry", he added in an Instagram post.

Zarif posted again on Instagram this morning to thank the Iranian people and their officials for their support, saying that he had always been committed to serving his country. The Trump administration pulled the United States out of the deal in May a year ago and reinstated severe sanctions while claiming the pact isn't strict enough.

Soleimani, who was present at both meetings, said Zarif's absence was the result of a bureaucratic mistake.

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Although Mr Soleimani did not address the resignation directly, his comments will be seen as a sign that Mr Zarif could stay on.

Analysts say Rouhani faces growing political pressure from hard-liners within the government as the nuclear deal unravels.

On Tuesday, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, long a critic of Iran, welcomed his departure. Many hardliners took issue with the deal to begin with because it forced Iran to compromise its nuclear activities in exchange for the lifting of sanctions. "Zarif is gone, good riddance".

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