Iranian president, MPs want Zarif to stay as FM

Iranian MPs have started a signature campaign requesting President Hassan Rouhani to persuade Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, above, to continue with the job,

Rouhani said he will not accept Zarif’s resignation.

The minister should continue to perform his duties courageously and he will get all support from the government, Rouhani said.

The signature campaign by MPs started after Zarif, who negotiated the 2015 nuclear deal for Iran, abruptly decided to step down late on Monday and apologised for his “shortcomings” during his term in office.

Zarif has been under constant pressure from hardliners who opposed his policy of detente with the West.

Political observers said the nuclear deal would collapse after Zarif’s exit.

Criticism against Zarif within the country rose after US President Donald Trump walked away from the nuclear deal and re-imposed sanctions on Iran.  

While taking note of Zarif’s resignation, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Zarif and Rouhani are just front men for a corrupt religious mafia headed by Ayatollah Ali Khamanei who makes all final decisions.

Pompeo said the Iranian government must behave and respect its people.

US ally Israel’s prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu welcomed the news of Zarif’s resignation.