Iran foreign minister to visit New Zealand

Iran’s Foreign Minister Javad Zarif will visit New Zealand next week as part of a relationship-building tour of Asia-Pacific following the lifting of sanctions on Iran.

Dr Zarif’s visit to six countries in the region follows the historic deal on Iran’s nuclear capabilities – a deal that resulted in the lifting of international sanctions on Iran earlier this year.

His role in that deal between Iran and the five Permanent Members of the Security Council saw him nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize. New Zealand formally lifted its sanctions on Iran last month, opening the way for New Zealand businesses to trade with Iran again. Iran was New Zealand’s fifth largest export market in the 1980s and talks in New Zealand are likely to focus on trade and economic links.

The state-owned Islamic Republic News Agency reported that Iran’s foreign ministry spokesman, Hossein Jaber Ansari said Zarif’s visits were to try to expand the opportunities opened for Iran following the removal of the sanctions.

Dr Zarif – a career diplomat – will visit New Zealand as well as Indonesia, Singapore, Brunei, Thailand, and Australia on an 11-day trip with a political delegation.

He is currently in Indonesia for a meeting of the Organisation of Islamic Co-operation (OIC) on Israel and Palestine.