Miffed at Program Change, Iran’s Zarif Skips Davos

By Patrick Goodenough | January 21, 2020 | 3:42pm EST
Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif at Davos in 2017. (Photo by Fabrice Coffrini/AFP via Getty Images)
Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif at Davos in 2017. (Photo by Fabrice Coffrini/AFP via Getty Images)

(CNSNews.com) – Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif canceled his planned visit to the World Economic Forum annual meeting in Davos at the last minute because, his ministry said on Monday, organizers had abruptly changed the program in a way that affected him.

Ministry spokesman Abbas Mousavi said Zarif had fully intended to attend the forum, having received “formal and in-person invitations from WEF.”

“Sadly, unilateral changes in mutually agreed arrangements on part of WEF – perhaps geared to have only one outcome – have prevented that,” he added.

Mousavi did not elaborate, but a daily Iranian newspaper said it had learned that organizers had told Zarif he could no longer address an audience as originally planned, citing as a reason the Iranian regime’s shooting down this month of a Ukrainian passenger plane.

It said Zarif had been assured he could still attend other, closed, meetings as arranged, but that Zarif had decided instead to cancel.

Zarif has been a regular attendee at the annual meeting in the Swiss Alps of business executives and political figures. His participation in the January 2017 event coincided with that of outgoing Secretary of State John Kerry, his negotiation partner in the 2015 nuclear deal known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA).

Tehran’s relations with the West are at a particularly low point. In the turbulent aftermath of the killing in a U.S. airstrike of Qods Force commander Qassem Soleimani, the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) fired ballistic missiles at Iraqi bases hosting U.S. troops. Hours later, the IRGC shot down a Ukrainian Boeing over Tehran, saying it had been mistaken for a hostile target. All 176 people onboard were killed.

Last week, Britain, France and Germany triggered a formal dispute resolution process in response to Tehran’s moves away from compliance with the JCPOA.

Zarif on Monday threatened to withdraw from the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) if that action by the three European nations leads to Iran’s referral to the U.N. Security Council.

Also on Monday, the newly-appointed successor to Soleimani, Brig. Gen. Esmail Ghani (Qaani), said during his induction ceremony that “the enemy knows nothing but the language of force, so we will firmly deal with him.”

The U.S. had killed Soleimani “in a cowardly way,” he said, “but with Allah’s grace and through endeavors of freedom-seekers around the world who want vengeance over his blood, we will hit his enemy in a manly fashion.”

Three Katyusha rockets landed near the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad’s Green Zone overnight, “without any casualties,” according to the Iraq Security Media Cell, which falls under the prime minister’s office.


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