Zarif’s trip to Moscow, Baku postponed


TEHRAN — Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif’s planned trips to Russia and the Azerbaijan Republic have been postponed to a later date, according to Iran’s Foreign Ministry spokesman.

In a statement on Saturday, Saeed Khatibzadeh said the trips, which were planned for the coming days, have been postponed because of the Iranian cabinet’s extraordinary plan to hold meetings both in the morning and in the afternoon within the coming days to discuss the country’s budget.

According to the spokesman, all cabinet members and ministers must attend these meetings and sessions.

Khatibzadeh announced in a tweet on Thursday that Zarif will be visiting Moscow and Baku on Monday and Tuesday to discuss a variety of bilateral and regional issues such as the crisis in the Nagorno-Karabakh region.

“The Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Islamic Republic of Iran will pay a visit to Russia and Azerbaijan on Monday and Tuesday next week, November 23-24, with the aim of holding talks with the regional parties. Nagorno-Karabakh and the latest developments in the region, as well as bilateral issues, are on the agenda,” he wrote.

Russia’s Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova also announced on Thursday that Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov was scheduled to have a meeting with his Iranian counterpart in Moscow on November 23.

It came after the outbreak of the war in the disputed region of Nagorno-Karabakh in late September. The 44-day war was brought to an end on November 10 when Baku and Yerevan signed a Russian-brokered ceasefire deal that entailed the return of occupied territories to Azerbaijan and the establishment of “transport links” between the Armenian enclave of Nagorno-Karabakh and Armenia as well as between the landlocked Azerbaijani exclave of Nakhchivan and mainland Azerbaijan.

Tehran has welcomed the ceasefire agreement while underlining that the current international borders in the region should not be changed.

“The Islamic Republic of Iran welcomes the agreement reached among the Republic of Azerbaijan, the Republic of Armenia and the Russian Federation, which led to a ceasefire and a cessation of hostilities, and hopes that this agreement, the principles of which were included in the initiative of the Islamic Republic of Iran, will lead to the establishment of lasting peace in the Caucasus region in such a way that includes peace and prosperity for the people in all countries of the region and removes existing concerns,” the Foreign Ministry said in a statement following the signing of the ceasefire agreement.

Khatibzadeh also said at a press conference on Sunday that Foreign Minister Zarif’s trip will be rescheduled in the future.

“The foreign minister’s trip, given that the Armenian government was experiencing changes at the foreign minister level, was scheduled to be made only to Moscow and Baku, but it was postponed due to the [Rouhani] administration’s announcement that all cabinet members must attend a meeting of the cabinet,” he said.

“The trip will be rescheduled and its focus is the Karabakh conflict,” he added.

MH/PA

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