November 25, The Iran Project – Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif traveled to ّthe Italian capital of Rome last Wednesday (Nov. 21) to participate in and address the 4th International Mediterranean Dialogues Conference (IMED) and several other economic and cultural programs as well as holding talks with a number of his foreign counterparts in the margin of the events.
Upon arrival at the Ciampino airport in Rome, Mr. Zarif told reporters that “the annual Mediterranean Dialogues summit is a good opportunity to clarify the country’s position on the very dangerous situation in the Middle East, in particular the United States’ nationalist policies and the status of extremism and terrorism.”
First day’s agenda in Rome
On Thursday, the Iranian foreign minister and and his Italian counterpart Moavero Milanesi held a meeting and have discussed the Special Vehicle Purpose (SPV), a payment mechanism being devised by Europe to facilitate trade with Iran in the face of US sanctions.
In their Thursday meeting, Zarif and Milanesi also pointed to historic, broad and growing ties between the two countries, highlighting their political will to develop and deepen ties in various political, economic, cultural and international fields.
Addressing a joint meeting of Iran-Italy chambers of commerce and Italian Industries Confederation attended by a number of Italian entrepreneurs, the country’s deputy foreign minister and head of Italian Chamber of Commerce, Zarif maintained that as soon as the Iranian nation feel the other parties to JCPOA cannot secure Iran’s benefits from the deal, it will adopt different options.
Touching upon deep historic and cultural relations between the Iranian and Italian nations, he said that one of the goals of the JCPOA was to normalize Iran’s ties with other countries, but this has faced bullying of the US President Donald Trump.
Later in the day, the top Iranian diploamt took part in a meeting with dozens of Iranian expatriates living in Rome.
Addressing the gathering, Zarif said the development of Iran is not possible without having interaction with the world, but “we shouldn’t be dependent on others.”
According to Iranian Foreign Ministry’s official website, in his speech, Zarif said Iranian expatriates act like bridges connecting Iranian-Islamic culture and identity to other societies, describing them as the envoys for dialogue, connection and mutual understanding.
Meanwhile, Zarif wrote in a tweet:
“Met with Italian FM on sidelines of #MED2018; reviewed bilateral ties & peace efforts in Yemen, Syria & Libya. Also met with large group of Italian businesses eager to engage with Iran. All riled by US bullying & determined to protect #JCPOA & to ensure Iran’s economic dividends.”
Zarif delivers speech at Rome MED 2018
Addressing the 4th edition of Mediterranean Dialogues, FM zarif reiterated that Iran sees no point in fresh nuclear talks with the US without guarantees it will not renege on any deal made.
“If we are to make an agreement with the United States, what is the guarantee that the agreement will last after the flight? You remember Canada?” he said, referring to Trump’s withdrawal of his signature from a G7 summit closing statement in June after his plane left host Canada.
US President Donald Trump withdrew from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) on May 8, branding the landmark agreement between Iran and the P5+1 group of countries – the US, the UK, France, China, Russia and Germany – a “disaster.”
Iran has made it clear that it continues to stick to the current terms of the deal and work with the European signatories to overcome the sanctions.
He pointed out that the accord was not between Iran and the Obama administration because it also involved the P5+1 and the European Union (EU) while also being enshrined in UN Security Council Resolution 2231.
Zarif went on to add that “Iran has endured not for 40 years but for 7,000 years. History of the Iranian and Italian emperors is older than certain claimant countries and that’s for the same reason we will not surrender to force, as we know no power is permanent.”
“We share values and culture”
Speaking at the Mediterranean Dialogues (MED) forum in Rome, Iraqi Foreign Minister Mohamed Ali Alhakim said: “We are not in a position to stop our trade with them. We share values and culture. Therefore, we are not concerned about the sanctions imposed by America on Iran.”
He estimated their trade at $12 billion.
Iranian FM’s agenda on 2nd day
Iranian foreign minister on Friday (Nov. 23) conferred with the UN Syria envoy on issues of mutual interest.
Resolution of Syria crisis through diplomacy, compilation of the country’s constitution, dispatch of humanitarian relief aid and reconstruction of the war-torn region were the topics discussed during the meeting between Zarif and de Mistura.
Also, the foreign ministers of Iran and Japan have discussed the latest developments in bilateral relations, the JCPOA, international and regional issues, including the situation of Yemen, Syria and North Korea.
On the same day, Iranian foreign minister and his Russian counterpart discussed bilateral ties as well as implementation of the Iranian nuclear deal.
The two sides conferred also on the regional issues, in particular, the latest developments in Syria and Yemen.
In a meeting with President of Italian Chamber of Deputies Roberto Fico, Zarif stressed that the US unilateral and illegal moves to withdraw from a multilateral nuclear agreement and exert pressure on other countries are instances of bullying which would have short-term and long-term negative outcomes in the international system.
He emphasized that Iran would successfully handle the ongoing situation.
The Italian parliamentarian, for his part, said the US pullout from the landmark nuclear deal has caused problems but European countries, including Italy, would make their utmost efforts to preserve the outcomes of the JCPOA.
Also on Friday, Zarif met with Malta’s Foreign Minister Carmelo Abela in Rome.
The top Iranian and Maltese diplomats discussed the latest developments about the JCPOA, mutual relations and regional issues, particularly the Yemeni and Syrian crises.
“Iran has right to restore uranium enrichment”
In an interview to Italy’s Rai News24, published on the broadcaster’s website, Zarif stated that a decision to restore uranium enrichment was an option which Iran could use to respond to a move by the United States in December to pullout from the JCPOA.
The top Iranian diplomat also said that Iran, like the US, had the option to withdraw from the JCPOA, a deal which he said was the result of some of the “lengthiest” and “most serious” negotiations in recent history. However, he said Tehran was waiting for the European partners to the deal to see if they could preserve the agreement by ensuring the interests of the Iranian people.
Zarif said that EU had made some strong commitments about the JCPOA but was yet to show its real determination to avoid US pressure and get on with the implementation of the deal.