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Iranian Legislators Protest at Zarif-Obama Handshaking

30 September 2015 22:42



The Iranian parliamentarians are preparing a statement to voice protest at Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif’s shaking hand with US President Barack Obama at the UN headquarters, the first handshake between a high-ranking Iranian official and a US president in over 30 years.

“The lawmakers are signing a statement to voice protest at the foreign minister’s shaking hand with the US president,” Mojtaba Rahmandoust, a senior MP, told FNA on Wednesday.

Noting that the general atmosphere prevailing over the parliament condemns the hand-shaking with Obama, he underlined that the entire world should know that Zarif’s act doesn’t mean Iran’s hand-shaking with the US.

Zarif, the head of Iran’s diplomacy apparatus who played an important role as the country’s chief nuclear negotiator in securing the landmark nuclear agreement between Tehran and the world powers this summer, shook hands with Obama on Monday on the sidelines of the UN general assembly.

It was the first time a high-ranking Iranian official had shaken hands with an American president in over three decades.

The Iranian foreign ministry explained that this was not a planned action and had happened by accident, when Zarif was leaving the UN headquarters at noon time and incidentially ran into the US delegation headed by President Obama.

The principlist camp is furious at Zarif’s reaction, stressing that he should have declined to shake hand with the head of an arrogant, aggressive state.

The United States and Iran broke diplomatic relations in April 1980, after Iranian students seized the United States’ espionage center at its embassy in Tehran. The two countries have had tense relations ever since.

Tehran has been under Washington sanctions after the 1979 Islamic Revolution that toppled a US-backed monarch in the country.

The two countries’ relations deteriorated following Iran’s progress in the field of civilian nuclear technology. Washington and its Western allies accuse Iran of trying to develop nuclear weapons under the cover of a civilian nuclear program, while they have never presented any corroborative evidence to substantiate their allegations. Iran denies the charges and insists that its nuclear program is for peaceful purposes only.

Tehran stresses that the country has always pursued a civilian path to provide power to the growing number of Iranian population, whose fossil fuel would eventually run dry.

Also during the 2009 post-election events in Iran, Iranian officials found a number of documents as well as a series of confessions extracted from the detainees substantiating US attempts to stoke unrests in the country.

But the nuclear deal which was clinched in Vienna on July 14 made Tehran and Washington to hold several rounds of bilateral talks in the past two years within the framework of nuclear negotiations between Iran and the Group 5+1 (the US, Russia, China, Britain and France plus Germany).

In a recent case, Zarif held talks with US Secretary of State John Kerry in New York on Saturday on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly meeting.

After the meeting, Zarif reiterated that his country would not discuss anything, but the nuclear issue, in talks with Washington.

“We had said since the beginning that our negotiations with the US would be limited to the nuclear issue and we don’t talk about other issues,” Zarif said in an interview with the state TV on Sunday night.

Yet, he said the US officials sometimes had tried to raise other issues in the talks, “but we have always emphasized that our bilateral negotiations are limited to the nuclear issue based on the framework specified by Supreme Leader of the Islamic Revolution (Ayatollah Seyed Ali Khamenei)”.

“We didn’t enter negotiations on Syria or other regional issues in our talks with Kerry,” Zarif said.

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