Kerry: I met Zarif 'three or four times'

Former Secretary of State says his meetings with Iran's Foreign Minister dealt with how Iran can change the dynamic in the Middle East.

Elad Benari,

John Kerry
John Kerry
Reuters

Former US Secretary of State John Kerry has admitted he met with Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif several times since leaving office.

Speaking on journalist Hugh Hewitt’s daily radio show, Kerry acknowledged that he met with Zarif “three or four times” but denied he was trying to coach him through the Trump administration’s rejection of the 2015 Iran nuclear deal.

“No, that’s not my job, and my coaching him would not, you know, that’s not how it works. What I have done is tried to elicit from him what Iran might be willing to do in order to change the dynamic in the Middle East for the better,” claimed Kerry. “You know, how does one resolve Yemen? What do you do to try to get peace in Syria? I mean, those are the things that really are preoccupying, because those are the impediments to people, to Iran’s ability to convince people that it’s ready to embrace something different.”

“I’ve been very blunt to Foreign Minister Zarif, and told him look, you guys need to recognize that the world does not appreciate what’s happening with missiles, what’s happening with Hezbollah, what’s happening with Yemen,” continued Kerry, who said added that “it appears right now as if the administration is hell bent for leather determined to pursue a regime change strategy to bring the economy down and try to isolate further. And I would simply caution that the United States historically has not had a great record in regime change strategies, number one. And number two, that makes it very difficult, if not impossible, for any Iranian leader to sit down and negotiate anything, because they’re not going to do it in a capitulatory, you know, situation. It’s just not going to happen.”

Kerry has repeatedly argued in favor of the Iran deal, which he helped broker while serving as Secretary of State and from which President Donald Trump withdrew in May.

The Boston Globe revealed in May that Kerry met with Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammed Javad Zarif in an effort to save the deal, angering Trump who in turn blasted Kerry on Twitter.

Earlier this week, Kerry justified his meetings with Iranian officials, telling Fox News, “Every secretary of state, former secretary of state continues to meet with foreign leaders, goes to security conferences, goes around the world. We all do that. And we have conversations with people about the state of affairs in the world in order to understand them. We don't negotiate. We are not involved in interfering with policy. But we certainly have reasonable discussions about nuclear weapons, the world, China, different policies obviously.”

Last November, Kerry warned Congress that it would be "extraordinarily dangerous" for it to reject the 2015 Iran nuclear deal.

He warned in late October that Trump risked driving Iran towards nuclear proliferation if he cancels the deal.

More recently, Kerry ripped Trump in an interview on CBS for deciding to leave the 2015 Iranian nuclear deal, claiming the President “doesn't know what he's talking about”.


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