TEHRAN, Young Journalists Club (YJC) - Speaking to reporters at the end of the 13th meeting of Iran-South Africa Joint Commission in Pretoria on Monday, Zarif made the remarks in reaction to earlier comments by US Secretary of State, Rex Tillerson in Saudi capital Riyadh.
Tillerson was speaking at a joint news conference with Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir on Sunday. He said "Iranian militias" in Iraq should leave the country now that the fight against Daesh was coming to a close.
“Iranian militias that are in Iraq, now that the fight against Daesh and ISIS is coming to a close, those militias need to go home. The foreign fighters in Iraq need to go home and allow the Iraqi people to regain control," the US state secretary said.
In response to Tillerson, Zarif noted that the anti-Daesh fighters “are already in their homes and have not been waiting and will not wait for anybody’s order,” adding, “If they had waited for orders from Tillerson and US government, today, we would have had Daesh in Baghdad and Erbil.”
He emphasized that the anti-Daesh fighters have only acted in line with orders from religious authorities and defended their own homeland.
“Unlike the US that sees its interests in division and discord, the Islamic Republic of Iran sees its interests in cooperation and collaboration with regional countries,” Zarif said.
Zarif also put a relevant post on his Twitter account on Monday, in which he reiterated Iran's policy to meet its interests through positive collaboration with regional states.
Unlike the U.S.—which sees regional conflict in its interest to sell more arms—we desire more dialog with and between all our neighbors.
On Sunday, the Iranian foreign minister also slammed Tillerson’s remarks, saying they had been uttered under the influence of petrodollars of certain states.
“Exactly what country is it that Iraqis, who rose up to defend their homes against ISIS, [should] return to?” Zarif said in a tweet late on Sunday, using an alternative name for Daesh. “Shameful US FP (foreign policy), dictated by petrodollars,” he added in his tweet.
Exactly what country is it that Iraqis who rose up to defend their homes against ISIS return to? Shameful US FP, dictated by petrodollars.
Upon his arrival in the South African capital on Sunday, Zarif also denounced the policies of US President Donald Trump’s administration as “isolated in the world.”
“Unfortunately, the Americans do not want to rectify their viewpoint that Iran is a source of stability and peace as well as a campaigner against terrorism in the region,” he said.
Meanwhile, speaking at the Iran-South Africa Trade Forum, Zarif stressed the importance of improving mutual relations and said, “South Africa has a special significance for Iran in economic ties.”
He added that Iran enjoyed a good level of security for investment, particularly following the implementation of the landmark nuclear agreement, known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), and the lifting of sanctions against the country in 2016, Presstv reported.
Zarif noted that the removal of sanctions had greatly improved the prospects for relations with Iran.
Iran and the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council – the United States, France, Britain, Russia and China – plus Germany signed the nuclear agreement on July 14, 2015 and started implementing it on January 16, 2016.
Under the JCPOA, Iran undertook to put limitations on its nuclear program in exchange for the removal of nuclear-related sanctions imposed against Tehran.
South African Minister of Small Business Development Lindiwe Zulu, for her part, called for the expansion of banking cooperation with Iran and said there was no obstacle in the way of improving mutual relations.