Wednesday, October 05, 2005

Prominent Iranian diplomat quits nuclear negotiating team

Interactive Investor:
One of Iran's most prominent diplomats, Mohammad Javad Zarif, has resigned as a member of the country's nuclear negotiating team, the official news agency IRNA reported today.

Zarif, who is ambassador to the United Nations, is widely considered as a moderating influence over foreign policy and in favour of improving ties with the West. READ MORE

The report, quoting an unidentified source, did not say why Zarif quit the nuclear negotiating team, which has been almost totally changed following the June presidential election victory of hardliner Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

Leading negotiator Hassan Rowhani, also a moderate, was replaced by ultra-conservative Ali Larijani, who is seen as being at the opposite end of the regime's political spectrum to diplomats like Zarif.

During the tenure of former president Mohammad Khatami, Zarif played an active role in efforts to improve Iran's foreign relations.

He was notably involved in closed-door talks with the United States in 2001 on the formation of a post-Taliban government for Afghanistan, followed by secret contacts prior to the US invasion of Iraq.