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Iran's Khamenei rejects FM's resignation after leaked recording

Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei in Tehran, Iran on January 08, 2021 [Iranian Leader Press Office/Anadolu Agency]
Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei in Tehran, Iran on January 08, 2021 [Iranian Leader Press Office/Anadolu Agency]

Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei is reported to have rejected the resignation of Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif which was submitted in the wake of the leaked audio recording in which he criticised the army's influence over the political arena.

A source in Khamenei's office said the supreme leader feared that Zarif's resignation would lead to the overthrow of President Hassan Rouhani's government ahead of the presidential elections scheduled for June.

He also believes that should Zarif depart from the government, talks with the foreign powers on reviving the 2015 nuclear deal may be harmed.

"The guide is seriously considering taking the nuclear negotiations file out of the Foreign Ministry and returning it to the Supreme Council for National Security," the source added.

The source pointed out that the Iranian and American delegations in Vienna have already agreed to a prisoner swap and the release of $7 billion of frozen Iranian funds. Details of the deal are to be kept a secret until after it is implemented, the source added. The White House has previously denied that such a deal exists.

READ: Iran president orders probe into leak of FM's discussion

Zarif has already apologised twice for the comments he had made in the audio recording including making a public apology for the leaked audio recording and issuing a personal apology to Khamenei.

According to the source, despite his decision to reject Zarif's resignation, Khamenei has assured Rouhani that the issue has not come to an end.

"However, the Americans were surprised that the deal was leaked even before the Iranian Foreign Ministry Undersecretary Abbas Araghchi arrived in Tehran, which prompted the Americans and British to backtrack," he added.

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