Iran president rejects foreign minister Mohammad Javad Zarif's resignation

Iran's Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif

"Signs show there has been no intention to exclude Mr Zarif from this meeting and I should emphasise that as the foreign minister of the Islamic Republic of Iran, he is the main person in charge of the country's foreign policy", Soleimani said.

Iran's President Hassan Rouhani has rejected the resignation of Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif two days after he publicly said he plans to step down.

The report on Wednesday comes after Zarif's sudden resignation late on Monday night.

"I believe your resignation is against the country's interests and do not approve it", Rouhani wrote in a letter to Zarif, the website said.

The foreign minister resumed his duties by attending the official welcome ceremony for Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan to Tehran and by speaking on the phone with his Syrian counterpart, Walid al-Moallem. His rejection of the resignation, reported by the state-run IRNA news agency, continued that praise.

Rouhani won landslide elections in 2013 and 2017 on promises of reform, while Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, in power since 1989, is seen as above factional fighting but sympathetic to the hardliners.

A USA -educated career diplomat, Zarif led Iran's negotiating team during lengthy talks with the US and other world powers that culminated in the 2015 Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, or "Iran deal", which lifted some sanctions against the Islamic Republic in exchange for commitments on its nuclear enrichment program.

The pressure has only intensified since US President Donald Trump abandoned the deal in May past year and reimposed crippling US sanctions.

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The pointman for Iran's engagement in Syria and Iraq, where it has played a major role in training paramilitaries for both countries' successful campaigns against the jihadists of the Islamic State group, said Zarif was in full charge of Iranian foreign policy.

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo had tweeted that it made no difference to Washington, whether Zarif stays or goes.

Meanwhile, Zarif thanked Iranian officials and the nation on Wednesday for their support after his resignation, saying he has always been committed to serving the country. One of his allies said his resignation was motivated by criticism of the nuclear agreement, which has come under increasingly intense fire in Iran since the United States abandoned it previous year.

Zarif's resignation and public comments highlight the struggle of moderate Iranian politicians to engage with the West in the face of hardline opposition at home and aggressive USA policies.

The son of a wealthy family, Zarif overcame hard-line objections and Western suspicions to strike the accord with world powers that saw Iran limit its uranium enrichment in exchange for the lifting of crippling economic sanctions. Although Rouhani is responsible for choosing ministers, Khamenei traditionally has the last say.

Zarif is a key ally of Rouhani and has also enjoyed good relations with the European Union.

The political uncertainty comes at a hard time for Iran's leaders as the newly reimposed U.S. sanctions have dashed hopes of an economic breakthrough.

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