News ID: 257747
Published: 0111 GMT August 24, 2019

Zarif heading to Asia in push against US sanctions

Zarif heading to Asia in push against US sanctions

Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif will head to East Asia on Sunday, his office said, as part of a diplomatic push to win relief from biting US sanctions.

Zarif will visit China, Japan and Malaysia, fresh on the heels of a tour of Western European nations, spokesman Seyyed Abbas Mousavi said late on Friday on the ministry’s Telegram channel.

“Seeking to follow up on and implement the Islamic Republic of Iran’s proactive and balanced diplomacy, Zarif will head a delegation to China, Japan and Malaysia in East Asia starting on Sunday,” Mousavi said.

“Bilateral relations and most importantly regional and international issues are some of the topics our foreign minister will discuss with the aforementioned countries’ officials during the trip,” said Mousavi.

Tehran has long-enjoyed close relations with a number of Asian and East Asian countries as part of a greater policy of diversifying and strengthening its foreign relations.

Iran’s ties with Asian countries have proven to be vital in countering US attempts to isolate the country, specifically after Washington withdrew from the multilateral 2015 nuclear deal last year and reimposed sanctions.

Europe’s failure to provide meaningful economic incentives as required under a 2015 deal and protect its trade with Iran against Washington’s sanctions has also convinced Iran to further shift to the East.

The United States imposed sanctions on Zarif late last month in a bid to target any assets he has in America and squeeze his ability to function as a globetrotting diplomat.

But Zarif hailed his visit to France on Friday following trips to Finland, Sweden and Norway.

During a joint press conference with Finland’s Foreign Affairs Minister Pekka Haavisto on Monday, Zarif emphasized that the nuclear deal is not open to renegotiations.

“Iran is not interested in negotiations with the United States to clinch a new nuclear accord,” Iran’s top diplomat said.

“We had detailed negotiations with the United States and it was not us who left the negotiating table,” he added.

On Friday, Zarif said he had held “constructive” negotiations with French President Emmanuel Macron on ways to salvage the nuclear deal without the US.

In a post on Twitter, he said “despite US efforts to destroy diplomacy,” he met Macron, Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian and had interviews with the media in Paris.

Iran and its arch-foe, the United States, have been at loggerheads since last year when President Donald Trump unilaterally withdrew the US from the deal under which the Islamic Republic agreed to rein in its nuclear activities in return for an easing of sanctions.

Twelve months on from the US pullout, Iran began reducing its commitments by surpassing a uranium enrichment cap and exceeding a limit on its reserves.

The situation has threatened to spiral out of control, with ships attacked in the Persian Gulf, a US drone downed and oil tankers seized.

During his visit to France, Zarif told AFP in an interview that he was pleased with Macron’s efforts to defuse the crisis.

“President Macron made some suggestions last week to President Rouhani, and we believe they are moving in the right direction, although we are not definitely there yet,” Zarif said.

Macron has been seeking to roll back some of the US measures imposed as part of Trump’s campaign of “maximum pressure” on Iran, which insists its nuclear program is peaceful.

French diplomats have raised the idea of US waivers on sanctions affecting Iranian oil exports to India and China, or a new credit line for Tehran that could help the struggling economy.

AFP and Press TV contributed to this story.



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