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Iran's Foreign Minister Hossein Amirabdollahian, a diplomat who praised Soleimani, dies in helicopter crash

The charred wreckage of the helicopter which crashed on Sunday carrying Raisi and Foreign Minister Hossein Amirabdollahian was found early the next day after an overnight search in blizzard conditions.

Edited By: Ajeet Kumar @Ajeet1994 Tehran Updated on: May 20, 2024 12:04 IST
Iran's Foreign Minister Hossein Amirabdollahian
Image Source : AP Iran's Foreign Minister Hossein Amirabdollahian

Iran's Foreign Minister Hossein Amirabdollahian, a hard-liner close to the country's paramilitary Revolutionary Guard who confronted the West while also overseeing indirect talks with the US over the country's nuclear program, died in the helicopter crash that also killed the country's President Ebrahim Raisi, state media reported Monday. He was 60.

VIDEO: Crash site where President and Amirabdollahian die

Amirabdollahian represented the hard-line shift in Iran after the collapse of Tehran's nuclear deal with world powers after then-US President Donald Trump unilaterally withdrew America from the accord. He served under President Ebrahim Raisi, a protege of Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, and followed their policies.

When Amirabdollahian openly praised Qassem Soleimani

However, Amirabdollahian was also involved in efforts to reach a detente with regional rival Saudi Arabia in 2023, a move eclipsed months later by tensions that arose over the Israel-Hamas war. But he remained close to the country's paramilitary Revolutionary Guard, once praising the late Gen. Qassem Soleimani, slain in a US drone strike in Baghdad in 2020.

"You should thank the Islamic Republic and Qassem Soleimani because Soleimani has contributed to world peace and security,” Amirabdollahian once said. "If there was no Islamic Republic, your metro stations and gathering centres in Brussels, London and Paris would not be safe.”

Amirabdollahian served in the Foreign Ministry under Ali Akbar Salehi from 2011 through 2013. He then returned for several years under Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, who was a key player in the nuclear deal reached under the administration of the relatively moderate President Hassan Rouhani.

But Zarif and Amirabdollahian had a falling out, likely over internal differences in Iran's foreign policy. Zarif offered him the ambassadorship to Oman, still a strategically important post given the sultanate long serving as an interlocutor between Iran and the West. But Amirabdollahian refused.

Amirabdollahian's tough stance when Mahasa Amini died 

He became foreign minister under Raisi with his election in 2021. He backed the Iranian government's position, even as mass protests swept the country in 2022 after the death of Mahsa Amini, a woman who had been earlier detained over allegedly not wearing a hijab, or headscarf, to the liking of authorities. The monthslong security crackdown that followed the demonstrations killed more than 500 people and saw over 22,000 detained.

In March, a United Nations investigative panel found that Iran was responsible for the “physical violence” that led to Amini’s death.

During the Israel-Hamas war, he met with foreign officials and the leader of Hamas. He also threatened retaliation against Israel and praised an April attack on Israel. He also oversaw Iran's response to a brief exchange of airstrikes with Iran's nuclear-armed neighbour Pakistan and worked on diplomacy with the Taliban in Afghanistan, with whom Iran had tense relations.

Amirabdollhian is survived by his wife and two children.

(With inputs from agency)

Also Read: Iran's President Ebrahim Raisi, Foreign Minister die in helicopter crash in East Azerbaijan province 

 

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