The World

Iranian Foreign Minister Taken to the Hospital after Reading Nasty Newspaper Article

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javed Zarif (L) speaks during a joint press conference with his Iraqi counterpart Hoshyar Zebari in Baghdad on September 8, 2013. 

Photo by AHMAD AL-RUBAYE/AFP/Getty Images

I imagine it’s going to be a bit tough for Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif to conduct controversial nuclear negotiations if this is what happens when he gets bad press:

The hardline newspaper Kayhan said on Tuesday that Zarif had told a closed-door session of parliament’s national security and foreign policy committee that Rouhani’s conversation with Obama had been a mistake, as had the length of Zarif’s own private meeting with U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry.

An infuriated Zarif denied saying any such thing, and said the newspaper report had affected him physically.

“This morning, after seeing the headline of one newspaper, I got severe back and leg pain. I couldn’t even walk or sit,” he wrote on his Facebook page late on Tuesday.

Cancelling several engagements, Zarif decided to rest at the ministry and held meetings with deputies “while resting”.

Hardline media outlets have already contradicted Zarif and President Hassan Rouhani on several points of fact and interpretation.

Doctors apparently told Zarif that his problem can be solved through exercise. Heading into next week’s talks in Geneva, let’s hope that’s true.

Zarif is reportedly planning to offer a deal under which Iran would halt the enrichment of weapons-grade uranium and open nuclear facilities to more intrusive inspections. Whether or not Western countries take the deal, the coverage is likely to get a lot nastier.