Iran General NewsProminent Iranian diplomat quits nuclear negotiating team

Prominent Iranian diplomat quits nuclear negotiating team

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AFP: One of Iran’s most prominent diplomats, Mohammad Javad Zarif, has resigned as a member of the country’s nuclear negotiating team, the official news agency IRNA reported Wednesday. AFP

TEHRAN – One of Iran’s most prominent diplomats, Mohammad Javad Zarif, has resigned as a member of the country’s nuclear negotiating team, the official news agency IRNA reported Wednesday.

Zarif, who is ambassador to the United Nations, is widely considered as a moderating influence over foreign policy and in favour of improving ties with the West.

The report, quoting an unidentified source, did not say why Zarif quit the nuclear negotiating team, which has been almost totally changed following the June presidential election victory of hardliner Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

Leading negotiator Hassan Rowhani, also a moderate, was replaced by ultra-conservative Ali Larijani, who is seen as being at the opposite end of the regime’s political spectrum to diplomats like Zarif.

Tensions with the West have also esclated after Iran slammed the door on proposals from Britain, France and Germany that it abandon fuel cycle technology in return for incentives, and decided to resume uranium conversion work in defiance of a suspension agreement with the EU-3.

The country now finds itself on the verge of being hauled before the UN Security Council, amid suspicions the regime is using an atomic energy drive as a cover for weapons development.

During the tenure of former president Mohammad Khatami, Zarif played an active role in efforts to improve Iran’s foreign relations.

He was notably involved in closed-door talks with the United States in 2001 on the formation of a post-Taliban government for Afghanistan, followed by secret contacts prior to the US invasion of Iraq.

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