Iran’s foreign minister cancels attendance at Davos summit
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Iran’s foreign minister cancels attendance at Davos summit

Amid soaring tensions with US and Europe, and citing an unspecified change to the conference’s program, Tehran says top diplomat Zarif will not join the annual event

Iran's Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif speaks during a meeting on the second day of the World Economic Forum, on January 18, 2017, in Davos. (AFP/Fabrice Coffrini)
Iran's Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif speaks during a meeting on the second day of the World Economic Forum, on January 18, 2017, in Davos. (AFP/Fabrice Coffrini)

TEHRAN, Iran — Iran said Monday its Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif will skip this week’s World Economic Forum after organizers changed the event he had been planning to take part in.

The annual summit, which kicks off in the Swiss resort of Davos on Tuesday, has been overshadowed by escalating tensions between Iran and the United States.

Zarif had been scheduled to attend the gathering after receiving a personal invitation, his ministry said.

“They changed the original program they had for him, the program that had been agreed upon, and came up with something else,” said spokesman Abbas Mousavi.

“Either way, this trip unfortunately will not happen,” he told a news conference in Tehran. It was not immediately clear what change prompted the cancellation.

US President Donald Trump speaks during a question and answer session at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, on January 26, 2018. (AFP Photo/Fabrice Coffrini)

The annual gathering of global movers and shakers in the Swiss Alps begins on Tuesday and lasts four days.

But Zarif’s absence removes any chance of a showdown at the venue with US President Donald Trump.

Tehran and Washington have been sworn enemies since the 1979 Islamic Revolution, but tensions have worsened since 2018 when Trump withdrew from the 2015 nuclear deal between Iran and six world powers.

Tensions further escalated after a US drone strike killed one of the Islamic Republic’s top military commanders, Qassem Soleimani, on January 3.

Iran hit back five days later by firing missiles at US troops stationed in neighboring Iraq.

Hours later, when it had been braced for US retaliation, Iran’s armed forces accidentally downed a Ukrainian airliner, killing all 176 people on board.

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