Zarif and President Rohani

A spokesman for the Iranian government is denying reports published by a number of Iranian websites that the government has decided to send Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif to the funeral service of former South African president Nelson Mandela.

The ceremony commemorating Mandela will take place on Tuesday December 10 at a soccer stadium in Soweto.

The Keyhan daily, a prominent hardline voice in the Islamic Republic establishment, blasted those who are calling for President Rohani to attend the ceremony in person, writing: “They are trying to push Rohani toward meeting with Obama.”
Keyhan has been a strong voice against the re-establishment of relations with the United States.

Former prime minister Mohammad Khatami has expressed his wish to attend the ceremony honouring the South African leader. Khatami was barred from travelling abroad during Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s presidency.

Nine prominent reformist figures in Iran issued a letter calling on Rohani to try to clear the way for Khatami to attend tomorrow’s ceremony.

The ceremony will be attended by more than 60 foreign leaders and dignitaries, including Barack Obama and three former U.S. presidents, the leaders of France, Brazil and Britain as well as Willem Alexander, the King of the Netherlands, and Prince Philip of Spain.