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Iran’s new ministers take office - ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive
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A handout picture released by the Iranian president's official website shows Iranian president Hassan Rouhani (L) handing over the decree to newly appointed foreign minister Mohammad Javad Zarif (R) during the handing over ceremony at the Foreign Ministry in Tehran on August 17, 2013. (AFP PHOTO/HO/PRESIDENT.IR)

A handout picture released by the Iranian president’s official website shows Iranian president Hassan Rouhani (L) handing over the decree to newly appointed foreign minister Mohammad Javad Zarif (R) during the handing over ceremony at the Foreign Ministry in Tehran on August 17, 2013. (AFP PHOTO/HO/PRESIDENT.IR)

London, Asharq Al-Awsat—The 15 ministers who passed the votes of confidence in the Iranian Parliament on Thursday evening officially assumed their posts on Saturday morning in Tehran.

President Hassan Rouhani chose to accompany foreign minister Mohammad Javad Zarif to his new office in central Tehran.

In the introduction session attended by almost all senior diplomats, Rouhani vowed to implement a professional foreign policy and expressed his delight over Zarif’s decision to take on the role.

Rouhani talked about the pillars on which his government’s foreign policy will be based. In his speech, Rouhani warned about the unintended consequences of using inappropriate language and manners in the realm of diplomacy, adding that the country and the people pay a heavy price for such blunders.

Press TV reported that “President Rouhani warned against the grave consequences of any mistakes in the country’s foreign policy, and that officials would be held accountable for blunders in foreign policy.”

The Iranian president praised Zarif’s track record in conducting Iran’s nuclear negotiations from 2002 to 2004, and credited him for having the knowledge and experience to take on the role of foreign minister.

Rouhani’s selection of Zarif as foreign minister has been interpreted as a clear sign of the new president’s intention to conduct a totally different foreign policy, in both tone and strategic terms. Yet there is little possibility for a considerable change in Iran’s position when it comes to the nuclear issue, Palestine, or the Syrian crisis.

Rouhani noted that the fact that “Iranians called for a review of the country’s policy does not mean a change in the principles, but the tactics and approaches should change.”

Rouhani added that his government will robustly pursue Iran’s national interest, but told Iran’s diplomatic corps that “our words should be wise, precise and logical and free from emotions and sentiments.”

The president reiterated what had been a key part of his election manifesto: correcting Iran’s foreign policy would solve many problems for Iran and its people.

On Friday, during his first media interview as foreign minister, Zarif emphasized that the Egyptian crisis has reached a critical level and is affecting national and regional stability. He stated that Egypt will be his immediate focus.

In his first foreign contact, Zarif spoke with the head of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, Ekmeledin Ihsanoglu, to whom he expressed his concern over the bloodshed in Egypt and the civilian casualties. Zarif called on the OIC to make efforts to find a solution to the crisis.

In a parallel development, Iran’s new defense minister, Gen. Hossein Dehgan, described the Egyptian crisis as worrying and urged the military to keep away from politics. Dehgan noted that the worsening Egyptian crisis will wear down the state structure and reduce national unity, which he said is contrary to the interests of all Islamic countries.

He expressed his hope that both sides would return to the negotiation table and find a political solution to the violent standoff.