Iran's Rouhani rejects Foreign Minister Zarif's resignation

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Moments after President Hassan Rouhani rejected Zarif's resignation by deeming it against the country's national interests, the foreign minister in an Instagram post on Wednesday morning thanked the Iranian nation's and officials' generous kindness and support during his tenure, especially in the last three hours.

Just two days after announcing his resignation on Instagram, Iran's Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif has returned to work, according to the country's state news agency Press TV.

Zarif, a US-educated veteran diplomat, helped craft a pact with world powers in 2015 that curbed Iran's nuclear programme in return for sanctions relief.

Zarif abruptly tendered his resignation on Instagram on Monday, seemingly over being left out of meetings with visiting Syrian President Bashar Assad earlier in the day, Iran's Entekhab news agency reported.

One of the architects of the 2015 nuclear deal with the West, Mr Zarif's critics claimed vindication when US President Donald Trump announced that he was withdrawing from the agreement past year.

Zarif's resignation and public comments highlight the struggle of moderate Iranian politicians to engage with the West in the face of hardline opposition at home and aggressive USA policies.

Soulemani, who oversees Iran's military involvement in Syria, commented on Zarif's absence from the Monday meeting saying "Some inconsistencies in the presidential office that have been raised have led to the absence of our country's foreign minister at this meeting".

Analysts say Rouhani faces growing political pressure from hard-liners within the government as the nuclear deal unravels.

"Definitely, Zarif is in charge of foreign policy of the Islamic Republic of Iran and he has been always supported by top officials including the supreme leader", Soleimani reportedly said.

The Guard's website later quoted Soleimani as offering his support to the foreign minister. Many hardliners took issue with the deal to begin with because it forced Iran to compromise its nuclear activities in exchange for the lifting of sanctions. Trump pulled the USA out of the accord and reimposed sanctions, leaving Iran to try and salvage what it could of the agreement. "Zarif is gone, good riddance".

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