Zarif cancels Vienna visit as Iran criticizes Austrian sympathy with Israel

May 15, 2021 - 19:31

TEHRAN – Iran’s top diplomat canceled a trip to Vienna amid Iranian criticism over a controversial decision by Austria to fly the Israeli flag over government offices.

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif was expected to pay a visit to Austria on Saturday but the visit was suddenly canceled. Iran’s Foreign Ministry said Zarif abrogated his visit because he didn’t see it useful.

“Mr. Zarif did not consider the trip expedient in these circumstances, and therefore the visit’s arrangements were not finalized,” Saeed Khatibzadeh, spokesman for Iran’s Foreign Ministry, told the ISNA news agency.

A Vienna-based journalist claimed that the cancellation was due to Austria flying the Israeli flag over government buildings.

“In a last-minute move Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif canceled his bilateral visit to Austria, that was planned for today, due to the Israeli flags on the roof of the Chancellery and the Foreign Ministry in Vienna,” Stephanie Liechtenstein said on Twitter, adding, “The Austrian Foreign Ministry just confirmed this to me and added: ‘This cancellation will not change our traditionally good relations and open channels of communication with Iran. But we will not make our statement of solidarity with Israel dependent on the diplomatic visits of other countries.’”

Earlier on Friday, Iran’s Deputy Foreign Minister Seyed Abbas Araghchi, who is in Vienna for nuclear talks, also expressed dismay at Austria’s controversial decision regarding the Israeli flag.

“Vienna is the seat of IAEA & UN, and Austria so far [has] been a great host for negotiations. Shocking & painful to see flag of the occupying regime, that brutally killed tens of innocent civilians, including many children in just few days, over government offices in Vienna. We stand with Palestine,” Araghchi said on Twitter.

Diplomats from Iran and the P4+1 group of countries as well as the U.S. are in Vienna to discuss the measures needed to be taken to bring Tehran and Washington back into full compliance with a 2015 nuclear deal officially known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA). Almost all parties to the negotiations said progress was made during the talks, though this progress did not amount to a complete revival of the JCPOA.

On Friday, Araghchi met with the Chinese envoy to the Vienna talks, Wang Qun. During the meeting, the two diplomats discussed the latest developments concerning the talks.

Over the past few days, the Iranian delegation in Vienna held several meetings with the P4+1.


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