President Hassan Rouhani said the resignation of Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif was against Iran's national interests. Zarif is a key supporter of the president who is facing pressure over Trump's shredding of a multiparty nuclear deal.

Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif (L) speaks to Iranian President Hassan Rouhani prior to a meeting in Tehran, Iran, November 24, 2015.
Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif (L) speaks to Iranian President Hassan Rouhani prior to a meeting in Tehran, Iran, November 24, 2015. (AP)

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani rejected Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif's resignation on Wednesday, the government's official website said.

"I believe your resignation is against the country's interests and do not approve it," Rouhani wrote in a letter to Zarif, the website said.

"As the Supreme Leader has described you as a "trustworthy, brave and religious" person in the forefront of resistance against widespread US pressures, I consider accepting your resignation against national interests and reject it," Rouhani said in a letter published on state news agency IRNA.

Zarif gave no reason for his decision to quit when he announced it on Instagram on Monday.

'Zarif is in charge of foreign policy'

A senior Revolutionary Guards commander said on Wednesday that the foreign minister was the main person in charge of Iranian foreign policy and he was supported by the Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

"Mr Zarif is in charge of the foreign policy of the Islamic Republic, and has always been supported by the top officials, especially the supreme leader,” Qassem Soleimani, head of the Quds Force – the extraterritorial branch of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps – was quoted as saying by Fars news agency.

Although Zarif gave no specific reasons for his surprise resignation, Iranian media reports indicated he resigned over not being invited to a meeting between Rouhani and Syrian regime leader Bashar al Assad in Tehran on Monday.

Assad made his first public visit to Iran since the start of Syria’s war in 2011, and also met Khamenei.

Soleimani, who was present at both meetings, said Zarif’s absence was the result of a bureaucratic mistake.

"Signs show there has been no intention to exclude Mr Zarif from this meeting and I should emphasise that as the foreign minister of the Islamic Republic of Iran, he is the main person in charge of the country's foreign policy," Soleimani said.

Zarif, a US-educated veteran diplomat, helped craft a pact with world powers in 2015 that curbed Iran's nuclear programme in return for sanctions relief.

He has been under pressure from Iranian hardliners since 2018, when US President Donald Trump withdrew from the nuclear deal and reimposed sanctions on Tehran.

Source: TRTWorld and agencies