‘Obama handshake’ triggers anger in Iran parliament

Mohammad Javad ZarifThe Iranian foreign minister’s reported handshake with US President Barack Obama triggered chants of “Death to America” in Tehran’s parliament Wednesday and a warning against “another kind of spying”.

The foreign ministry has confirmed a “completely accidental” 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 Iran’s semi-official ISNA news agency.

But hardline lawmakers went on the offensive against Zarif.

“With whose permission have they met Obama?” deputy Bahram Biranvand asked angrily. “Last time they talked to Obama on the phone and this time, with whose permission” did Iran’s minister shake hands with the US leader?

Biranvand was referring to President Hassan Rouhani’s historic telephone call with his American counterpart in 2013.

Zarif also came under indirect attack from Iran’s ultraconservative judiciary spokesman, Gholamhossein Mohseni Ejeie, Fars news agency reported.

Without naming Zarif, Ejeie alluded to the Obama handshake and said: “Some spies are paid but there is another kind of spying that we have to watch out for. He prepares the ground for the enemy.

“These people would say: ‘Why not allow a friendly handshake with the enemy? What’s wrong with shaking hands with Obama? What’s wrong with sitting with them, chatting away and drinking with them?'”

Despite the July 14 nuclear accord between Tehran and world powers led by the United States, Iran’s supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has said Washington remains Tehran’s “number one enemy”.

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 Iran’s 1979 Islamic revolution.

  • Kenneth Onyebuchi

    What is Iran up to this time. Is not a mark of honour and prestige for Iranian foreign minister to receive a handshake from American president. What is the problem of these Arab people. They always like to find trouble where there is non.

  • Billy Cruse

    Wow Iran! Come on people how are ties to be mended if you want to stay in the corner and pout all day everyday. “Death to America because of a hand shake!” Really, I do believe for World Leaders you all including America’s leaders act like grade school kids that can’t get along. How will ties and business with Iran be mended if you don’t want to compromise and try to trust each other. This is just the same reprimand I give to my kids when they fight over nothing instead of getting along and making things positive happen for themselves. You all really need to learn to work and play well together for a change because the only ones suffering behind Your utter stupidity is your very own people, common Americans and Iranians! Get it together please! And instead of the American Opposition to the deal with Iran, put on your Big Boy pants and help this country rebuild instead of constantly trying to tear all down. Grow Up Already, All of you are acting like a bunch of clowns monkeying around with the well fair of the people!