Interested in diplomacy but not in negotiating with US: Iran's foreign minister

The Iranian Foreign Minister accepted Iran's involvement in bringing down a Ukrainian flight killing 180 people and termed it an "unfortunate incident".

Published: 16th January 2020 12:46 AM  |   Last Updated: 16th January 2020 12:46 AM   |  A+A-

Iran's Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif addresses the Raisina Dialogue 2020 in New Delhi Wednesday Jan. 15 2020.

Iran's Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif addresses the Raisina Dialogue 2020 in New Delhi Wednesday Jan. 15 2020. (Photo | PTI)


NEW DELHI: India can play a role in de-escalating tensions in the Middle-East as it is an important player in the region, Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif said on Wednesday while terming the killing of General Qasim Sulemani by the US as an "unforgivable act of aggression".

In an address at the Raisina Dialogue, he came down hard on the US for assassinating Sulemani and attributed the action as a "sad reflection of a serious problem in Washington's thinking".

"If you are an ignorant-arrogant or an arrogant-ignorant, with power, it brings disaster," he said, alleging that Sulemani's killing was a US attempt to unilaterally shape policies in the region.

The attack, he said, was "unforgivable".

Zarif said unlike the common perception held by American lawmakers about Sulaimani's image, the global community at large voiced their dissatisfaction for the assassination and commemorated the General's demise.

The Iranian Foreign Minister accepted Iran's involvement in bringing down a Ukrainian flight killing 180 people and termed it an "unfortunate incident".

He called the downing of the aircraft as "accidental shooting".

Zarif also said his country was interested in diplomacy to de-escalate tension in the Middle-East, but not in negotiating with the US, remarks that come amid spiralling tensions between the two countries over the killing of Soleimani.

Hitting out at the US, he said Soleimani was the single biggest threat to ISIS and his killing was now being celebrated by the terror group and US President Donald Trump.

"Who is celebrating Soleimani's killing? President Trump, (US Secretary of State Mike) Pompeo and Daesh (ISIS). You wonder about strange bedfellows? Not really," he said, adding that Soleimani's killing had shown ignorance and arrogance on the part of the US.

The Iranian foreign minister claimed that 430 Indian cities saw protests and commemorative meetings after Soleimani's killing.

India can play a role in de-escalating tensions in the Middle-East as New Delhi is an important player, Zarif told PTI.

ALSO READ: India has strong interest in peace, stability in the region - PM Modi to Iran foreign minister

India has been maintaining that it would like the situation to de-escalate as soon as possible and the country has been in touch with key players, including Iran, United Arab Emirates, Oman and Qatar, as it has important interests in the region.

Zarif, in his address, also said that European powers have violated the 2015 international nuclear deal -- Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) that was signed between Iran and the P5+1 (China France, Germany, Russia, the United Kingdom, and the United States).

His remarks came a day after Britain, France and Germany launched a complaint against Iran for non-compliance.

"The future of the nuclear deal depends on Europe. JCPOA was one of the best deals. One of the best multilateral agreements. None of the 11 commitments given to Iran were fulfilled. Not only the US, but also EU failed to keep those commitments," Zarif said.

The EU is in violation of JCPOA commitments independent of American violations, he said.

"You (EU countries) are independent countries. Why do you let US bully you? So we triggered the dispute resolution mechanism. Nothing happened. They did not even respond," he said.

"We have said that once Europe reverses, we will reverse too. We have lost hundreds of billions of dollars. If they pay us those hundreds of billions we will reverse our decisions," Zarif said.

Referring to the Ukrainian jetliner that crashed earlier this week killing all 176 aboard, Zarif said shooting down of the civilian plane was a mistake.

"Why did it happen? Because there was a crisis. People make mistakes, unforgivable mistakes, but it happened in the time of the crisis," Zarif said.

Iran's Revolutionary Guard has acknowledged that it accidentally shot down the Ukrainian aircraft.

"We need to create hope in the region. We have to get rid of despair," he said.

Zarif's remarks come amid the global focus being on Iran and the US over the confrontation between them following Soleimani's killing.

Maj Gen Soleimani, the head of Iran's elite al-Quds force, was killed when a US drone fired missiles on his convoy in Iraq on January 3.

Last week, Iran launched over a dozen ballistic missiles targeting at least two bases where US military and coalition forces are stationed in Iraq.

Iran responded in self-defence, Zarif asserted.

The US accused Soleimani of threatening to attack US embassies, but now it is known there was no such threat, he said. 

The US wants to get rid of international law and that is why it talks of an international rules-based system, Zarif said.

The US looks at things from their perspective, not from the perspective of this region, he said.

"The US is now negotiating with Taliban. To do what? To get out of Afghanistan. What has US brought to Iraq? Stability? For Afghanistan and Iraq, it is their choice. But to use Iraq to mount an attack on an official guest of Iraq? It was an unprovoked attack," Zarif said.

Secretary Pompeo says if Iran wants its people to eat, then it will have to listen to US and this amounts to a war crime, Zarif said.

"We now need a new coalition against Daesh. We knew where Daesh was standing. We now know where US is standing," he said.

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