Iran on Asian tour to push against US sanctions

UNITED STATES, WASHINGTON (OBSERVATORY) — Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif will travel to East Asia on Sunday, his office said, seeking to rally diplomatic efforts to ease the impact of US sanctions against his country.

Zarif will visit China, Japan and Malaysia after a tour of Western Europe, his spokesman Abbas Moussavi said late Friday at the expense of the ministry on the application of Telegram.

“Some of the issues that our foreign minister will discuss with state officials during his visit will be bilateral relations and more important regional and international issues,” Mousavi said.

Washington imposed sanctions on Zarif late last month in an effort to target any assets he owns in the United States and limit his ability to serve as a diplomat roaming the world.

But Zarif praised his visit to France on Friday after a series of visits to Finland, Sweden and Norway.

Zarif wrote on Twitter that “despite US efforts to destroy diplomacy,” he met with French President Emmanuel Macron and Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian and interviewed the media, including AFP.

Tensions between Iran and the United States rose sharply last year when U.S. President Donald Trump withdrew from the 2015 nuclear deal and Tehran agreed to curb its nuclear program to ensure it did not have a military component in return for easing international sanctions.

Twelve months after Washington pulled out, Tehran stopped its commitment to some of the commitments stipulated in the agreement, to exceed the maximum limit for uranium enrichment as well as the size of the allowed stock.

The situation was further escalated with the attack of ships in the Gulf, the downing of a US drone and the seizure of oil tankers.

During his visit to Paris, Zarif praised Macron’s proposals for settling the crisis.

Zarif told AFP that “President Macron submitted proposals last week to President (Hassan) Rouhani, we believe that they are moving in the right direction, although we have not yet reached our goal for sure.”

Iran is trying to pressure Europeans seeking to maintain the deal to get them to take measures to circumvent US sanctions that are hurting its economy and causing the Iranian people “enormous suffering,” Zarif said.

The Europeans are trying to persuade Washington to ease sanctions on Iranian oil to get Tehran to respect the deal again.

France, Germany and Britain have introduced a mechanism known as “Instex” in order to facilitate the continuation of trade with Iran despite the US sanctions, but Iran has so far made little gains.


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