â€˜Obama handshakeâ€™ triggers anger in Iran parliament
The foreign ministry has confirmed a â€œcompletely accidentalâ€ encounter between Obama and Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly in New York on Monday, without denying there was a handshake as reported by Iranâ€™s semi-official ISNA news agency.
But hardline lawmakers went on the offensive against Zarif.
â€œWith whose permission have they met Obama?â€ deputy Bahram Biranvand asked angrily. â€œLast time they talked to Obama on the phone and this time, with whose permissionâ€ did Iranâ€™s minister shake hands with the US leader?
Biranvand was referring to President Hassan Rouhaniâ€™s historic telephone call with his American counterpart in 2013.
Zarif also came under indirect attack from Iranâ€™s ultraconservative judiciary spokesman, Gholamhossein Mohseni Ejeie, Fars news agency reported.
Without naming Zarif, Ejeie alluded to the Obama handshake and said: â€œSome spies are paid but there is another kind of spying that we have to watch out for. He prepares the ground for the enemy.
â€œThese people would say: â€˜Why not allow a friendly handshake with the enemy? Whatâ€™s wrong with shaking hands with Obama? Whatâ€™s wrong with sitting with them, chatting away and drinking with them?'â€
Despite the July 14 nuclear accord between Tehran and world powers led by the United States, Iranâ€™s supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has said Washington remains Tehranâ€™s â€œnumber one enemyâ€.
The Obama-Zarif handshake would be the first known between a US president and a top Iranian official since the two countries severed diplomatic ties in the wake of Iranâ€™s 1979 Islamic revolution.
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