Iran Foreign Minister calls off Austria visit to protest Israeli flag incident

The dispute between the two sides came while a round of negotiations to revive the 2015 nuclear deal were ongoing in the Austrian capital.

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The Austrian Foreign Ministry announced through a statement issued on Saturday that Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif canceled his visit to Vienna, where he would meet with his Austrian counterpart Alexander Schallenberg. According to the statement, Zarif’s decision came upon the Austrian government’s raising of an Israeli flag to show solidarity with Israel over the Hamas military airstrikes in response to the Israeli violence.

The Austrian Foreign Ministry spokesperson also confirmed the cancellation of the Zarif’s trip, saying, “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.”

In fact, Zarif’s decision was firstly reported by an Austrian journalist, Stephanie Lajinstein. Sharing a message on her Twitter account, she announced the cancellation of the Iranian FM’s visit. Highlighting that Zarif’s decision would not undermine the relations and communication channels between Austria and Iran, Lajinstein emphasized that her country’s solidarity with Israel would not be dependent on the other countries’ position.

On the other hand, the latest move came while the talks for restoring the 2015 nuclear deal were proceeding in the Austrian capital, Vienna. Abbas Araqchi, the head of the Iranian negotiation team, condemned the Austrian government’s move through a post on Twitter, writing, “Shocking & painful to see the flag of the occupying regime, that brutally killed tens of innocent civilians, including many children in just a few days, over a government office in Vienna. We stand with Palestine.”

On Friday, the Austrian government decided to fly the Israeli flag over the federal chancellery to show solidarity with Israel through the call by Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz, who is known to be pro-Israel.

Meanwhile, Vienna’s streets had also witnessed pro-Palestinian rallies over Israel’s bombardment targeting the Gaza Strip earlier this week. The Israeli Prime Minister, who failed to form a government, stated that the Israeli offensive towards the Gaza Strip would continue despite all international calls, including the one from United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, to stop all hostilities.

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