Zarif bids farewell to diplomacy, starts academic career

August 24, 2021 - 18:3

TEHRAN – Outgoing Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif announced on Tuesday that he will be ending his career as Iran’s top diplomat and will embark on an academic career in teaching and research. 

The former top nuclear negotiator of Iran who negotiated the landmark 2015 Iran nuclear deal, officially known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), will be succeeded by his former aide Hossein Amir-Abdollahian. 

Amir-Abdollahian is expected to obtain the approval of the Iranian parliament in the next few days.

Zarif suggested that he will not assume a diplomatic post and devote his time to research and teaching.

“After four decades of diplomacy, I move on to full-time teaching and research,” he said on Twitter. However, the former “smiling” diplomat who became the face of Hassan Rouhani’s administration, said he will continue to promote dialogue, an indication that he will likely play a role in Iran’s public diplomacy, though unofficially. 

“I'll continue to pursue and promote global understanding and encourage ‘positive-sum’ dialog—based on empathy, mutual respect, and equal footing. Looking forward to continuing the exchange of views,” Zarif added. 

On Monday, Zarif released a farewell statement that was more of a parting shot. In his statement, Zarif apologized to the Iranian people for “inadequacies” and asked them to forgive him.

“We have certainly not achieved all our foreign policy goals in the last eight years. History will judge both the value of our achievements and the causes of our failures. But we have always tried our best, together with good and worthy colleagues, to make foreign policy elevate peace, health, and welfare of the people, and protect the rights of the nation, the national economy, and the development of the country,” he said. 

He added, “Forgive me but to protect the national interest. I could not always speak as I liked and even defend my actions. And I testify that in four decades of service in foreign policy, I had no criteria other than the interests of the people of this country. Now I intend to continue the same task in another field at the University of Tehran.”

Zarif’s last meeting as foreign minister was with Japanese Foreign Minister Toshimitsu Motegi. After meeting his Japanese counterpart on Sunday, Zarif tweeted, “Pleased to host Japanese FM Motegi in Tehran on Sunday.  In what is probably my last meeting with a counterpart as Iran’s foreign minister, we discussed strengthening bilateral relations, how to resuscitate the JCPOA, and the catastrophic US-engineered situation in Afghanistan.”

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