However, Amirabdollahian also was involved in efforts to reach a détente 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 in 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 relative 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. He became foreign minister under Raisi with his election in 2021.

He backed the Iranian government 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.

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