Iranian Foreign Minister Cancels Vienna Visit over Israeli flag

Iran’s foreign minister Javad Zarif cancelled a visit with his Austrian counterpart after Chancellor Sebastian Kurz’s government and foreign ministry flew the Israeli flag as a signal of solidarity in Israel’s conflict with the militant Hamas group, the Austrian foreign ministry said on Saturday as quoted by Reuters.

Zarif was due to meet his Austrian counterpart Alexander Schallenberg, but had called off the trip.

“We regret this and take note of it, but for us it is as clear as day that when Hamas fires more than 2,000 rockets at civilian targets in Israel then we will not remain silent,”, a spokeswoman for Schallenberg said, confirming a report in newspaper Die Presse.

Chancellor Kurz, who is firmly pro-Israel, had called flying the Israeli flag on Friday a sign of solidarity amid the violent clashes, condemning with the utmost firmness the attacks against Israel from the Gaza Strip.

“Israel has the right to defend itself against these attacks. To show our solidarity … we have put up the Israeli flag,” on the chancellery and the foreign ministry, the statement added.

Vienna is hosting the negotiations in an effort to revive a 2015 accord with western powers in which Iran agreed to curb its nuclear programme in exchange for relief from sanctions.

Iran’s deputy foreign minister, Abbas Araghchi, who heads the Iranian delegation, tweeted on Friday that Austria “so far been a great host for negotiations” but criticised the move by Kurz saying it’s “shocking & painful to see flag of the occupying regime, that brutally killed tens of innocent civilians, inc many children in just few days, over govt offices in Vienna.”

“Vienna is the seat of (nuclear watchdog) IAEA & UN, and (Austria) so far been a great host for negotiations,” Araqchi wrote on Twitter.

“Shocking & painful to see flag of the occupying regime, that brutally killed tens of innocent civilians, inc many children in just few days, over govt offices in Vienna. We stand with Palestine.”

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