Iran's foreign minister submits resignation

The move comes as Zarif has been under pressure at home from hardliners due to the the Iranian nuclear pact

Photo: EPA Mohammad Javad Zarif, Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Islamic Republic of Iran

Iran's Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif has unexpectedly announced that he is stepping down. As a result, his sudden offer to step down has shocked Iran's political establishment and people, with many expressing worry the move could derail efforts to save a landmark nuclear pact, since Zarif played a prominent role in negotiating the 2015 nuclear deal between Iran and major international powers.

The resignation was first announced by Zarif on his Instagram account, but it was then also confirmed by Iran's state-run news agency, Irna, which cited a spokesman for the foreign ministry.

"I extend my gratitude for the generosity that dear and brave people of Iran and its respected authorities have had during past 67 months," Zarif wrote on Instagram page on Monday. "I humbly apologise for the inability to continue serving and for all the shortcomings during my service."

For now it is not clear whether his resignation will be accepted by President Hassan Rouhani, although the president's chief-of-staff tweeted to deny reports it had been accepted. It is also not clear what is the reason behind foreign minister's offer of resignation, the move comes amid quarrels over Iran's foreign policy as well as a global struggle to preserve the 2015 nuclear deal, in which Tehran agreed to curb its nuclear programme in exchange for sanctions relief.

Fighting between parties and factions in Iran is a "deadly poison" in formulating foreign policy, Zarif said in an interview published by the Jomhuri Eslami newspaper on Tuesday, suggesting he may have resigned also over pressure from hard-line elements opposed to his role in negotiating the nuclear deal.

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