Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif took part in the Oslo Forum on Tuesday, where he said among other things that there must be a “political solution” to the ongoing Syrian Civil War and that countries should not try to capitalize off of extremism to meet their own needs.
“If anyone tries to benefit from extremism [and] use it has a bargaining chip, then everyone loses,” Zarif said.
Norwegian Prime Minister Børge Brende told news agency NTB that Iran is in a unique position to influence the ongoing conflicts in the Middle East.
“Iran sits in a key position when it comes to contributing to solutions in both Syrian and Iraq,” Brende said.
Iran is a key player in the Syrian conflict, providing military support to President Bashar al-Assad. Iran also backs Iraq's military against the terror group Isis.
Zarif's participation in the Oslo Forum was condemned by Israel, with the Embassy of Israel in Oslo sending out a sharply-worded rebuke of his invitation to Norway.
“It is […] quite hallucinatory that one of the top leaders invited to the conference is Foreign Minister of Iran, a regime that is systematically promoting war, stimulating conflict and sponsoring terror. Iran is engaged in almost every unrest and insurgency in the Middle East,” an embassy statement provided to The Local read.
“The Iranian regime is the world's biggest supporter of terror: it supports and funds terror organizations such as Hezbollah and Hamas and is directly and indirectly connected to dozens of terror attacks against Israeli and Jewish targets around the globe,” it continued.
The embassy concluded by saying it was “Orwellian absurd” that “Zarif will be ‘talking peace' in Norway”.
Iranian exiles and others protested against Zarif's appearance in Oslo. Photo: Håkon Mosvold Larsen / NTB scanpix
A former Iranian ambassador to Norway also slammed Zarif's participation in the Oslo Forum.
“The trip by the Iranian regime's foreign minister Javad Zarif to Norway takes place amid an unparalleled wave of executions in Iran. Close to 130 people have been hanged in Iran in the past two months alone,” Perviz Khazai said in a statement provided to The Local.
“Zarif is the representative of a regime that has immersed the region in war and crisis through warmongering, export of terrorism, and extremism,” the statement continued.
Khazai, who represents the National Council of Resistance of Iran in the Nordics, said “Zarif ought to face justice for crimes against humanity and war crimes as a senior representative of the most brutal dictatorship after the Second World War for three decades."
Zarif told a press conference following his appearance at the Oslo Forum that Iran is seeking peace in the region by “encouraging dialogue across cultures and religions”.
“We are prepared to participate in meaningful discussions so that we can find meaningful solutions,” he said.
US Secretary of State John Kerry and EU foreign affairs chief Federica Mogherini are also taking part in the Oslo Forum, which continues on Wednesday.