Iranian President Hassan Rouhani or his foreign minister, Javad Zarif, will not represent Iran in the memorial service of South Africa’s anti-apartheid icon and former president Nelson Mandela.
The decision by Rouhani and Zarif not to attend Mandela’s memorial services where more than 100 heads of states and governments are participating came as a surprise, especially for a government on a charm offensive. Rouhani’s decision could be his attempt to avoid being seen with President Obama or be “trapped” into shaking hands with him. Hardline daily Kayhan said yesterday that there are forces that want to push Rouhani into the arms of the “chief of the Great Satan.”
Rouhani’s now-famous 15-minute phone conversation with Obama at the end of his UNGA visit to New York last September created troubles for him among Iranian hardliners and was criticized by Khamenei.
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