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Zarif: U.S. cannot push Iran out of Syria

Tehran Times – U.S. efforts to push Iranian military advisers out of Syria will not succeed, Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said on Thursday, emphasizing that Iran’s presence in Syria is at the request of the Syrian government.

“The aim of the U.S. administration is to get Iran out of Syria,” Zarif said during the third edition of the Rome Med conference in Rome. “The U.S. and Russia cannot decide for Iran. We are there at the request of the Syrian government,” he said. “It’s our region. It’s the Persian Gulf, not the Gulf of Mexico. We are going nowhere.”

He pointed out that U.S. President Donald Trump’s anti-Iran policies and his move to renege on the nuclear deal did not take into account the “reality” in the region which the chief diplomat said are “extremely dangerous.” “We have problems with the policies that are coming from Washington, and I believe those policies are extremely dangerous, impulsive, not grounded in reality,” the foreign minister noted.

The JCPOA is a balance

Referring to the Trump administration’s attempts to rewrite the nuclear deal, also called the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), Zarif urged Washington to revise its policies toward the Middle East.

Iran and six world powers – the United States, Britain, France, China and Russia plus Germany – finalized the text of the JCPOA in Vienna on July 14, 2015. Under the deal, Iran agreed to put restrictions on its nuclear activities in exchange for termination of economic and financial sanctions. “International relations are about finding a balance between give and take,” he said. “If people try to achieve a zero-sum option, they will end up losing. It’s not that one side will win, the other side will lose.

“That’s what the JCPOA is, it’s a balance. It’s not what we want, it’s not what the Americans want, it’s not what the Europeans want, but it’s what we could achieve, and I think the sooner the American administration in Washington realizes that, the sooner we can get over this.”

Trump created solidarity inside Iran

The foreign minister stressed that Washington’s lack of commitment to the JCPOA has made America an “unreliable” and “untrustworthy” partner. “The United States’ pressure has in fact created more solidarity inside Iran,” he said. “I am being attacked much less in Iran today than I was before Trump was elected. So, I thank him for that!”

During his stay in Rome, Zarif held separate meetings with his Italian counterpart, Angelino Alfano, European Union Foreign Policy Chief Federica Mogherini and Foreign Minister of Iraq Ibrahim al-Jaafari. He also attended a gathering of Iranian expatriates in Italy.

Europe, Mogherini firmly support JCPOA

Zarif left Rome on Thursday night and flew to Baku to attend the 7th Ministerial Conference of the Heart of Asia Process held in the Republic of Azerbaijan’s capital. Speaking to reporters on the sidelines of the conference, he praised Europe and Mrs. Mogherini for their firm stance on the issues surrounding the JCPOA.

He also held separate meetings with Azerbaijan’s President Ilham Aliyev, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu, and his Pakistani counterpart Khawaja Muhammad Asif. The foreign minister left Baku and flew back to Tehran on Friday afternoon.

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