Iran’s president responds to critics of Zarif-Kerry stroll

Zarif-Kerry walkingTehran, Feb 9, IRNA – Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani defended foreign minister, Mohammad Javad Zarif, who is under attack by hardliners, for a stroll he took with US Secretary of State John Kerry, in Switzerland, during the nuclear talks.
 Rouhani touched upon the issue indirectly saying “instead of criticizing two persons’ stroll we should look at their purpose,” TREND quoted Iran’s state IRINN TV channel as reporting on Feb. 8.

President Rouhani made the remarks during the ceremony of the 22nd World Book Award of Iran in the capital city of Tehran.

Zarif and Kerry took a stroll in downtown Geneva and along the Rhone River for almost 15-minutes on Jan. 14 as part of bilateral talks to reach a comprehensive deal over Iran’s nuclear program.

At least 25 Iranian MPs have signed a petition to question Zarif on the issue.

The lawmakers’ petition read that Zarif’s “symbolic stroll” was a diplomatic mistake.

Some hardliner MPs argue that the results of the nuclear talks have been against the Iranian people’s interests so far.

The talks between Iran and the P5+1 (the US, the UK, Russia, China, France and Germany) group were extended until July 1, 2015 to reach a comprehensive nuclear agreement.

After the sides failed to meet the Nov. 24, 2014 deadline they also extended the Geneva nuclear deal, which was signed in Nov. 2013 to provide Iran with some sanctions relief in exchange for Tehran agreeing to limit certain aspects of its nuclear activities.

The US and its Western allies suspect Iran of developing a nuclear weapon – something that Iran denies.