The making of an Iran nuclear deal: ‘patience and a thick skin’

There is an old view that Iranians are formidable diplomats. Perhaps it is in the genes, or perhaps it results from centuries of practice conducting the foreign relations of great dynasties.

Sir Thomas Herbert, a writer who accompanied British diplomats to Iran in the 17th century, noted that visiting foreigners were encouraged to wear their own dress “so that the greater the variety” the more the Shah would feel “his court and country [were] honoured at home and [held] in estimation abroad”.

Among the best-sellers at last month’s Tehran international book fair was a biography of foreign minister Mohammad Javad Zarif. In its sixth printing since its release in 2013, “Mr Ambassador” collects interviews telling the life story of the diplomat set to deliver a nuclear agreement with world powers.

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