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Zarif makes fresh push to save Iran deal, ease Gulf tensions

Iran's foreign minister has embarked on a long journey in search of workable diplomatic solutions to save the battered nuclear deal and resolve heightened tensions in the Persian Gulf.
Minister for Development Cooperation and Foreign Trade of Finland Ville Skinnari meets Foreign Minister of Iran Mohammed Javad Zarif, in Helsinki, Finland, August 19, 2019. Lehtikuva/Markku Ulander via REUTERS ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS IMAGE HAS BEEN SUPPLIED BY A THIRD PARTY. FINLAND OUT. NO COMMERCIAL OR EDITORIAL SALES IN FINLAND NO THIRD PARTY SALES. NOT FOR USE BY REUTERS THIRD PARTY DISTRIBUTORS - RC1ECD803310

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif is on an international tour that will take him from Scandinavia to France and later to East Asia in search of solutions to rescue the Iran nuclear deal — also known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) — from collapse and to end ongoing tensions in the Persian Gulf.

Addressing a gathering of Iranians in the Swedish capital, Zarif expressed Iran's readiness for dialogue with its main regional rival, Saudi Arabia. Zarif revealed that during his recent trip to Kuwait, he told his hosts that talks between Tehran and Riyadh could start as immediately as "tomorrow" if the Saudis were prepared. "But they [Saudis] make odd statements, saying Zarif has no authority and that they have issues with General Qasem Soleimani," who is the commander of Iran's powerful Quds force, the overseas branch of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps. Zarif suggested that the Saudis are "lying," as they rejected earlier offers involving Soleimani for talks over the situation in the region.

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