Iran foreign minister embarks on tour to salvage nuclear deal
IRAN’S foreign minister will embark on a diplomatic tour to try to salvage the nuclear deal amid high tensions following the US withdrawal and global fears over reports of unprecedented clashes with Israel in Syria.
Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif would leave later today for visits to Beijing, Moscow and Brussels, a spokesman said yesterday, holding meetings with all five of the remaining parties to the 2015 nuclear deal.
Iran appeared determined not to be drawn into a wider regional conflict with Israel during the negotiations.
That is despite Israel’s claims that it struck dozens of Iranian targets inside Syria on Thursday as part of “Operation House of Cards”.
Israeli Defence Minister Avigdor Lieberman urged Syrian President Bashar al-Assad to throw the Iranians out of his country.
Israel said the strikes were in response to a missile volley fired from southern Syria by Iran’s Al-Quds force, that struck the occupied Golan Heights without causing casualties.
But Iran flatly denied the Israeli version of events yesterday, saying Israel’s attacks had been carried out on false pretexts.
“The repeated attacks by the Zionist regime on Syrian territory were carried out under pretexts invented by themselves and are without foundation,” foreign ministry spokesman Bahram Ghasemi said.
Iran must tread a delicate line as it seeks to show resolve against US President Donald Trump and the Israeli strikes without alienating the European partners it needs to salvage something from the nuclear deal. Zarif will hold high-pressure talks with the other parties to the deal, first in Beijing and Moscow, and then with his counterparts from Britain, France and Germany in Brussels on Tuesday.
All five have condemned Trump’s move to walk out of the deal and reimpose crippling sanctions, but European companies in particular will be highly vulnerable to economic pressure from Washington.
France hopes for a wider settlement that will cover Iran’s activities across the Middle East, and warned Teheran against any temptation for regional dominance.
President Hassan Rouhani told German Chancellor Angela Merkel in a telephone call on Thursday that he did not want new tensions in the Middle East. – AFP