Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif praised the diplomatic skills of the late Iranian commander Lieutenant General Qassem Soleimani, describing him as a hero in peacemaking.
“As a person who has always worked in the field of peace and negotiation, I truly consider him not just a champion of fight against terrorists, but also a hero in peace-making efforts,” Zarif said in a televised interview on Sunday night.
The top diplomat said he always consulted with General Soleimani, and his advice was always “useful” to him, Press TV wrote.
“In the time when I was Iran’s ambassador and permanent (UN) representative in the US, and during the negotiations I had been ordered by the Supreme Leader to hold, I used to come back to Tehran to consult with Hajj Qassem, and then leave the country to hold negotiations,” Zarif said.
“Hajj Qassem’s consultations were always useful to me, and I really didn’t take any advice from other people. Once I asked the Supreme Leader to allow Hajj Qassem to personally participate in the session, and I was sure the talks would have been much more successful (with him in attendance),” he added.
Zarif also praised Soleimani’s personal characteristics, describing him as a person who cared about people’s lives, reputation, and end of conflicts.
“Any peace plan I pursued had definitely been devised by Hajj Qassem; he both encouraged us and helped us with the follow-ups,” he added.
Zarif then highlighted the significant role played by Soleimani in the 2001 Bonn Conference, which resulted in an agreement on the re-creation of the State of Afghanistan following the US invasion of the country.
“Hajj Qassem played a more important role in Tehran by holding talks with all jihadi groups of Afghanistan, to convince them to accept an equation which could shape a new future for Afghanistan in the years to come,” he noted.
Zarif made the comments on the first anniversary of the assassination of General Soleimani, along with his comrades, in a US drone strike near the Baghdad International Airport.
In his Sunday remarks, the Iranian top diplomat slammed US President Donald Trump for assassinating Soleimani in such a “cowardly” way.
“Hajj Qassem used to tell me he was waiting for a bullet, and he thought he’d be shot in the battlefield. He would never think the Americans may hit a car in the mid-night in such a way. It was an easy job to hit that car… It really shows Trump’s misery and cowardice,” Zarif said.
“The Americans were terrified of Hajj Qassem and considered him a genius in the battlefront. He was a genius who had defeated them in Syria and Yemen,” he added.
General Soleimani, who commanded the Quds Force of Iran’s Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC), was admired as the Middle East's most influential and charismatic counterterrorism leader. He played a key role in helping Iraq and Syria defeat terrorists, chiefly Daesh, in late 2017.
Trump will ‘pay back’
Iran's Judiciary Chief Ebrahim Raeisi said US President Donald Trump will ultimately have to pay for ordering assassination of General Soleimani.
“Trump would have to pay back, whatever his position,” Raeisi told Lebanon’s Al-Manar television network Sunday night.
“Whether he heads the US administration or not, Trump should face retribution for the atrocity he has perpetrated,” he added.
Iran has issued an arrest warrant and asked the international police organization Interpol for help in detaining Trump, who ordered the assassination, and several other US military and political leaders behind the terrorist act.
Recently, Leader of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei said revenge for the Iranian general was certain and would be exacted at the right time.
Raeisi called the assassination an example of “state terrorism” that took place in a third country, while Soleimani was on an official visit at the invitation of Iraq’s prime minister.
“This is definitely an atrocity that does not reconcile with any of the international laws and regulations and humanitarian principles, and whose perpetrators are prosecutable,” Raeisi said.
He said all those who assisted the US president in committing the assassination or were accomplices in the targeted killing have been identified, pledging that the Islamic Republic would not give up its efforts to prosecute those who ordered, perpetrated, and abetted the assassination.
Tehran is in possession of “significant evidence” related to the assassination, the chief justice noted. It is keeping up its efforts towards prosecution of the culprits through a special tribunal at home, in cooperation with Baghdad, and on the international arena, including through international legal channels and the United Nations, he added.
“If the evidence is examined independently and on the basis of international law and human rights, our efforts will yield result,” he said.
However, those behind the assassination should primarily be convicted in the international public opinion and conscience, Raeisi noted.