Iran’s Zarif Checks Into Hospital Claiming Newspaper ‘Misquotes’
Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said he canceled most of his appointments and checked into a hospital suffering from back pain and muscle spasms.
Zarif’s hospitalization in Tehran came as he complained that the Kayhan newspaper “misquoted” the diplomat as criticizing new Iranian President Hassan Rouhani’s nascent detente with the U.S. Kayhan is seen as being close to Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.
Six days before the next round of scheduled talks on Iran’s nuclear program with the U.S. and five other world powers, Zarif disclosed his ailments on his Facebook page.
Kayhan reported today that Zarif told lawmakers that last month’s telephone conversation between Rouhani and President Barack Obama was a mistake. Kayhan also quoted Zarif as saying that his own meeting with Secretary of State John Kerry had been over-long.
In his Facebook entry, Zarif denied the veracity of the Kayhan report and accused the paper of being more conservative than the Supreme Leader. His attack highlights the split within the Iranian establishment over how to deal with the U.S.
“It is interesting that those who claim loyalty to the Supreme Leader are moving ahead of the leadership,” Zarif wrote. “Doesn’t it occur to them that if he wanted, he would have made his position more clear?”
Khamenei on Oct. 5 expressed qualified support for the diplomatic approach adopted by Rouhani’s team during their meetings at the United Nations General Assembly in New York. He also voiced criticisms.
“Some of the things that happened during the New York trip were not appropriate,” Khamenei wrote on his website. “Because we believe the U.S. government is untrustworthy, arrogant and irrational, and one that reneges on its promises.”
Iran and world powers are scheduled to resume talks on the Islamic republic’s nuclear program in Geneva next week.
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