Radiofarda – Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif says he and President Hassan Rouhani will go to New York next week to take part at the UN General Assembly meeting.
The statement put an end to weeks of debate in the Iranian media about whether Rouhani should or should not take part in the meeting; with hard-line media led by the Kayhan newspaper, which is close to Ayatollah Khamenei’s office, strongly opposing the U.N. visit.
The Iranian Students News Agency (ISNA) quoted Zarif as saying in Tehran on Tuesday September 18 that the meeting offers a good chance for diplomacy as 95 heads of state are also taking part as well as many other top officials.
He said that Rouhani will speak at the UNGA meeting and is going to have several bilateral and multilateral meetings with world leaders while in New York.
Zarif added that Iran has no concern about the UN Security Council meeting as “the U.S. has changed its plans about the meeting,” adding that “the meeting is no longer about Iran and only Security Council members will take part in it.”
Iranian media and officials had said during the past weeks that they thought the Security Council meeting was particularly set up to put Rouhani in a position to meet face to face with U.S .President Donald Trump.
Zarif added, however, the “The Americans will take advantage of any opportunity to raise irrelevant issues and level accusations against Iran,” adding that “threatening other countries by the United States not to maintain ties with Iran, is a sign of America’s weakness and isolation, as others would not listen to them.”
Nevertheless, Zarif admitted that some foreign companies have “temporarily” left Iran as a result of U.S. threats.
Speaking about recent media reports about former U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry’s meetings with him, Zarif said that those meetings were neither pre-planned, nor secret.
“When I go to New York, everyone from Kissinger to Kerry and the House representatives come to see me. This is normal and it is a reality that shows Iran’s influence,” Zarif said.
On the controversy between the Trump administration and Kerry over the meetings, Zarif said, “This is a stage-managed dispute that has something to do with the upcoming elections in America.”
Kerry said in an interview with New York’s Salem Radio recently that he has had a few meetings with Zarif, but said he did not “coach” him in how to respond to the policies of the Trump administration.
“I think I’ve seen him three or four times,” Kerry said in an interview with Hugh Hewitt on Salem Radio in New York on Wednesday September 12, the radio anchor’s website reported.
“What I have done is tried to elicit from him what Iran might be willing to do in order to change the dynamic in the Middle East for the better,” Kerry explained.
In a tweet on Thursday September 14, Trump called the meetings “illegal”, characterizing Iran as a “very hostile” regime.
This would mean that Kerry most probably did not coordinate his meetings with Trump administration officials.
Trump also accused Kerry that the former secretary of state told Zarif “to wait out the Trump administration!”