Reports from a hardline Iranian newspaper quote Foreign Minister Javad Zarif as confirming he and President Hassan Rouhani were rebuked by Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei over their recent diplomatic overtures to the US.
The efforts during the officials’ visit to the UN General Assembly had drawn intense criticism from Iranian conservatives, who argued the reformists shouldn’t trust the US, ironically echoing similar opposition to rapprochement among US hawks.
Khamenei had reportedly objected to two specific points, believing Zarif’s meeting with Secretary of State John Kerry was too long, and that the 15-minute phone call between Rouhani and Obama was a “misstep.” Zarif said it had been his understanding that both were in keeping with the authority they were given for diplomatic efforts.
Khamenei had publicly said the US wasn’t trustworthy and that some of the diplomatic aspects of the trip were “not proper,” but had not offered any specifics. At present, it seems he is trying to avoid undermining the newly elected Rouhani while still avoiding alienating hardliners who see this as just the latest in a long line of embarrassing failures to return to an equitable diplomatic standing with the US.
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