Visiting Foreign Minister of Iran Mohammed Javad Zarif speaks to the media during his joint press conference with Foreign Minister of Finland Pekka Haavisto (not in frame) after their talks at the House of the Estates in Helsinki, Finland, Aug 19, 2019. (MARKKU ULANDER / LEHTIKUVA VIA AP)
Zarif and Finnish Foreign Minister Pekka Haavisto spoke to the media after their meeting in Helsinki.
Commenting in Helsinki about the chances of Finland becoming a mediator between the United States and Iran, Zarif said that "a mediation should have some ground" and warned that the window for a dialogue may be closing.
Iran's foreign minister underlined that the country is willing to continue the dialogue, saying: "There should be some ground for the work of a mediator. And the mediator should bring the US back to the table"
The Iran nuclear deal, or the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), was reached in 2015 between Iran and the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council, namely China, France, Russia, United Kingdom, United States, plus Germany.
But the US withdrew from JCPOA last year.
Zarif said Iran has shown its clear preference for cooperation and engagement through signing and negotiating the JCPOA. He also noted that Iran has remained committed to JCPOA despite US measures.
He said that there was an election in the US, not a revolution, "so whatever the previous administration committed itself to, binds the new administration as well".
Zarif underlined that Iran is willing to continue the dialogue, but the window is closing. "There should be some ground for the work of a mediator. And the mediator should bring the US back to the table".
Haavisto told the media briefing that Finland views the JCPOA as a very important international agreement. "We should all do our best to keep the agreement alive. Finland is ready to do its part."
Zarif had said earlier that "a result better than the 2015 deal would not be reached," and local commentators regarded the comment as an indication that Iran is not interested in negotiating about new terms.
During the visit, Zarif also had talks with Finnish President Sauli Niinisto, Minister for Development Cooperation and Foreign Trade Ville Skinnari and representatives of the Helsinki based conflict management organization, Crisis Management Initiative.
Zarif welcomed the release of the tanker Grace 1(renamed Adrian Sarya 1) in Gibraltar. Asked to comment on the reports that the ship may go to Greece to offload its cargo, Zarif said Iran cannot be very transparent about the ship's route on account of the US sanctions.
Finland raised its concern on maritime security in the Strait of Hormuz. Zarif said in the press conference that the maritime security in the Strait and Persian Gulf is important to Iran "but it must be available to everyone".
Finland took up the situation of the vessel Stena Impero held in Iran and appealed for the release of the ship and crew. At the press conference, Zarif did not mention a possible release of the Swedish-owned ship that sails under UK flag.
Haavisto said Finland is looking in a positive light towards joining the trade support instrument INSTEX, though no decision has been taken yet. The system is a European special purpose financial vehicle to transfer non-USD transactions in a way that avoids US sanctions.
HONG KONG NEWS