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Iran FM Zarif mocks Trump over North Korea nuclear summit

Days after his resignation was rejected, Zarif says US president can't improve on 2015 Iran nuclear deal
Iran's president rejected Zarif's attempt to resign earlier this week (Reuters/File photo)

Mohammad Javad Zarif has publicly ridiculed Donald Trump, saying Washington's failed nuclear summit with North Korea demonstrates that the US president won't get a better deal than the 2015 Iran nuclear agreement.

The Iranian foreign minister, whose attempted resignation was rejected earlier this week, said on Friday that Trump should have "realized that pageantries, photo-ops & flip-flops don't make for serious diplomacy".

Talks in Vietnam between Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un collapsed this week without an agreement on nuclear disarmament or any commitment to lift international sanctions.

"It took 10yrs of posturing plus two years-literally thousands of hours-of negotiations to hammer out every word of the 150 page JCPOA. You'll never get a better deal," Zarif wrote on Twitter, using the acronym for the 2015 Iran nuclear agreement.

Signed by the Iranian government and several world powers, the JCPOA led to Iran curbing its nuclear programme in exchange for a lifting of international sanctions.

Zarif's comments come only days after he submitted his resignation as Iran's foreign minister. That attempt to step down was rejected by Iranian President Hassan Rouhani.

The foreign minister appears to have emerged from the episode stronger, thanks in large part to Rouhani's endorsement and support from Iranian lawmakers, as well as other key figures in the country, including - at least implicitly - Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

"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," said Rouhani, in a letter published on Wednesday by state news agency IRNA.

Zarif had been under increased pressure from hardline political forces in Iran after Washington's decision to pull out of the 2015 nuclear deal.

Trump withdrew from that agreement last May, pitting Washington against some of its key allies in Europe and prompting anger among Iranian leaders and citizens alike.

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The US also reimposed economic sanctions on key Iranian industries late last year, putting even more pressure on Iranian politicians, including Zarif, who had pushed for Tehran to open up to Western countries.

As the key architect of the nuclear accord, Zarif's resignation was initially viewed as being at least partially the result of the Trump administration's anti-Iran rhetoric and policies.

Some Iranian media reports also indicated Zarif had resigned over Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's visit to Tehran on Monday, with outlets noting that the foreign minister was not pictured in any of the coverage of the visit.

On Wednesday, Assad invited Zarif to meet him in Damascus, Iran's state-run Press TV reported.

Zarif also had a telephone call that day with Syrian Foreign Minister Walid al-Muallem "to discuss in the latest developments in bilateral ties and exchange views" following Assad's visit to Tehran, Press TV said.