Iran's foreign minister summoned to parliament over walk with Kerry

By REUTERS
January 25, 2015 15:49
1 minute read.

 
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DUBAI - Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif is to appear before parliament following controversy over a promenade with his American counterpart during intense nuclear negotiations in Geneva, state media reported on Sunday.

Zarif, who leads Tehran's talks with "P5+1" - the United States, Britain, France, Germany, Russia and China - had a 15-minute walk down Geneva sidewalks with US Secretary of State John Kerry during discussions on Jan. 14 aimed at reaching a settlement of the 12-year nuclear dispute between Iran and the West.

Media images of the top diplomats from old adversaries strolling together in a foreign land provoked an outcry among Iranian hard-liners deeply wary of rapprochement with the "Great Satan".

On Friday, conservative-leaning prayer leaders heaped scorn on Zarif and President Hassan Rouhani for the "diplomatic slip-up" and newspapers said 21 members of parliament had signed a petition to call in the moderate minister to provide an explanation.

"Given the Great Satan's endless demands and sabotage during the course of the nuclear negotiations, there is no conceivable ground for intimacy between the foreign ministers of Iran and America," said the petition published in hard-line Fars News.

"Your exhibitionist walk together with (Kerry) along Geneva sidewalks was certainly outside the norms of diplomacy, so why don't you put a stop to such behavior?"

The row over the diplomatic stroll is the latest in a series of summons since Zarif took charge of the nuclear file in late 2013.

In February 2014 he caused an uproar with public comments condemning the Holocaust and was subsequently summoned to parliament. Holocaust denial has been a staple theme of public speeches in Iran for decades.

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