Iranian FM apologises for leaked audio about General Soleimani

Iran's Foreign Minister Jawad Zarif has apologized for a statement leaked last week that angered the nation just two months before the country's presidential election.

According to the international news agency, Jawad Zarif's leaked statement included words referring to the late Commander of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards, General Qasim Soleimani, who was targeted in the US operation in early 2020.

Relations between Iran and the United States were strained after the attack, while millions attended the funeral of General Qasim Soleimani in Iran.

Jawad Zarif had refused to stop the use of Iran Air's national aircraft for operations in Syria, despite General Qasim Soleimani's separate relations with Russia and the Foreign Minister's objection in the leaked audio.

"I hope General Soleimani's family will forgive me," the Iranian foreign minister said in a statement on the social networking site Instagram.

"I hope that the great people of Iran and the admirers of General Soleimani, and especially his family, will forgive me," he added.

Jawad Zarif's leaked audio was seen as a controversial statement across Iran, where political officials are wary of statements about the Revolutionary Guards, led by the Supreme Leader.

Jawad Zarif's leaked statement also talked about the reduction of his powers along with General Qasim Soleimani.

On various occasions, the Iranian foreign minister can be heard in a long tape, saying that it is not for broadcasting.

"If I had known that this statement would go public, I would not have said it like that," he said in an Instagram post.

Jawab Zarif said that he is a presidential candidate in the upcoming elections while some elements believe that he could be a strong candidate against the reactionaries in the polls.

Earlier, a leaked audio recording in which Iran’s top diplomat complained about lack of power and criticized the country’s military’s dominance over foreign policy drew an array of reactions, including from US politicians.

In the three-hour recording, published by London-based Iran International TV station on Sunday, Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said he had “zero” influence over Tehran’s foreign policy and complained about the extent of the influence the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) and its assassinated commander Qassem Soleimani had in comparison.

“I have never been able to tell a military commander to do something to aid diplomacy,” Zarif said in the leaked interview, which took place last February.

Zarif added that Soleimani would give him instructions “almost every time I went to negotiate (with world powers).”

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