Tehran — Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif urged Iranian diplomats Tuesday not to resign en masse following his shock announcement he was quitting.
The announcement on Instagram late on Monday by Zarif prompted reports that large numbers of diplomats were considering resigning too in a show of support.
The official IRNA news agency said Zarif had also commented for the first time on the reason for his announcement.
“I hope my resignation will act as a spur for the foreign ministry to regain its proper statutory tole in the conduct of foreign affairs,” it quoted him as saying.
According to Iran’s Entekhab news agency, Zarif’s resignation appears to be linked to a surprise visit by Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad to Tehran on Monday.
He was not present at any of the meetings Assad had with Ali Khamenei and Iranian President Hassan Rohani, according to semi-official news agency ISNA.
Ultra-conservative MPs tried to impeach him, only backing down in December as the initiative lost steam.
Iran’s stock market dropped around 2,000 points on Tuesday on news of Zarif’s resignation, the Islamic Republic News Agency (IRNA) reported.
A close ally of Zarif told Reuters on Tuesday that political infighting in Iran after Washington last year quit a nuclear deal between Iran and world powers forced the foreign minister to announce his resignation,
“Zarif and President (Hassan) Rohani have been under a huge amount of pressure from top officials since last May … the US exit intensified political infighting in Iran,” said Zarif’s ally, who asked not to be named. — Saudi Gazette