Iran’s foreign minister has tested positive for Covid, local media reported, at a key moment in diplomatic efforts to revive a nuclear deal with the major powers.
Hossein Amir-Abdollahian “tested positive for the coronavirus today,” the Tasnim news agency reported on Monday evening.
The 57-year-old career diplomat, who was appointed foreign minister in August by ultra-conservative President Ebrahim Raisi, was a close confidant of military strategist Gen. Qassem Soleimani who was assassinated in an early US drone strike. from last year.
“His general state of health is satisfactory and he has continued with his daily tasks since quarantine,” ministry spokesman Saeed Khatibzadeh told the official IRNA news agency.
Khatibzadeh had said on Monday that talks with other parties to the 2015 nuclear deal would resume “in the next two or three weeks,” although he added that ministers would not participate.
READ ALSO: Nigeria records one death, 74 new COVID-19 infections
President Joe Biden’s administration has repeatedly warned that time is running out to reverse the US withdrawal from the deal ordered by his predecessor Donald Trump.
Washington does not participate directly in the talks but does participate through EU intermediaries.
Trump’s abandonment of the deal and the reimposition of sweeping economic sanctions prompted Iran to suspend many of the commitments it made in exchange for the lifting of sanctions.
Western governments on Saturday issued a joint statement 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 production was “for medical supply and for use as fuel in the Tehran research reactor”, and reiterated its willingness to resume talks.
Talks have since taken place before Raisi’s election in June.