Iran’s foreign minister has tested positive for Covid, local media reported, at a key moment in diplomatic efforts to revive a nuclear agreement with major powers.
Hossein Amir-Abdollahian “tested positive today for coronavirus,” the Tasnim news agency reported late Monday.
The 57-year-old career diplomat, who was named foreign minister in August by ultraconservative President Ebrahim Raisi, was a close confidant of military strategist General Qassem Soleimani who was assassinated in a US drone strike early last year.
“His general health is satisfactory and he is continuing his daily duties from quarantine,” ministry spokesman Saeed Khatibzadeh told the official IRNA news agency.
Khatibzadeh had said just Monday that talks with the remaining parties to the 2015 nuclear deal would resume “in the next two or three weeks”, although he added that ministers would not take part.
The administration of President Joe Biden has warned repeatedly that time is running out to reverse the US withdrawal from the deal ordered by his predecessor Donald Trump.
Washington is not directly participating in the talks but is taking part through EU intermediaries.
Trump’s abandonment of the agreement and reimposition of sweeping economic sanctions prompted Iran to suspend many of the commitments it made in return for the lifting of the sanctions.
Western governments issued a joint statement Saturday expressing “grave” concern over Iran’s production of highly enriched uranium and enriched uranium metal, which they said met “no credible civilian need”.
Iran retorted that the output was “for medical supply and for use as fuel in the Tehran research reactor,” and reiterated its readiness to resume talks.
The talks have been hold since before Raisi’s election in June.