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Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amirabdollahian, hard-line diplomat, dies in helicopter crash

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) — Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amirabdollahian, a hard-liner close to the country’s paramilitary Revolutionary Guards who has clashed with the West while also overseeing indirect talks with the U.S. United over the country’s nuclear program, died in the helicopter crash that took place. also killed the country’s president, state media reported Monday. He was 60 years old.

Amirabdollahian represented the hard-line shift in Iran following the collapse of Tehran’s nuclear deal with world powers following the arrival of then-US President. Donald Trump unilaterally withdrew America from the agreement. He served under President Ebrahim Raisi, a protégé of the Supreme Leader. Ayatollah Ali Khameneiand followed their policies.

However, Amirabdollahian also participated in efforts to achieve détente with regional rival Saudi Arabia in 2023, a move overshadowed months later by tensions that emerged following the war between Israel and Hamas. But he remained close to the country’s paramilitary Revolutionary Guards, once praising the late General Qassem Soleimani, who was killed in a US drone strike in Baghdad in 2020.

“You should thank the Islamic Republic and Qassem Soleimani because Soleimani contributed to world peace and security,” Amirabdollahian once said. “If there was no Islamic Republic, your metro stations and assembly centers in Brussels, London and Paris would not be safe.”

Amirabdollahian served in the Foreign Ministry under Ali Akbar Salehi from 2011 to 2013. He then returned for several years under the Foreign Minister. Mohammad Javad Zarifwhich was a key player in the nuclear deal reached under the administration of relatively moderate President Hassan Rouhani.

But Zarif and Amirabdollahian fell out, likely over internal differences over Iranian foreign policy. Zarif offered him the post of ambassador to Oman, a position that remains strategically important given that the sultanate has long served as an interlocutor between Iran and the West. But Amirabdollahian refused.

He became foreign minister under Raisi when he was elected in 2021. He supported the Iranian government’s position, even as mass protests swept the country in 2022 following the death of Mahsa Amini, a woman who had been previously arrested for not wearing a hijab, or headscarf, to the authorities’ liking. The months-long security crackdown following the protests killed more than 500 people and led to more than 22,000 being arrested.

In March, a United Nations commission of inquiry concluded that Iran was responsible for the “physical violence” that led to Amini’s death.

During the Israel-Hamas war, he met with foreign officials and the leader of Hamas. He also threatened retaliation against Israel and praised the attack on Israel in April. He also oversaw Iran’s response to a brief exchange of airstrikes with nuclear-armed neighbor Pakistan and worked on diplomacy with the Taliban in Afghanistan, with whom Iran had tense relations. .

Amirabdollhian is survived by his wife and two children.

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Associated Press writer Amir Vahdat in Tehran, Iran, contributed to this report.

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