Former US Secretary of State John Kerry says, he has not have any meetings with Iranian officials since President Donald Trump left the landmark 2015 nuclear deal with Iran.
Kerry was criticized by the current Secretary of State Mike Pompeo for “actively undermining” his government’s effort to contain Tehran by having several meetings with the Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif.
On September 14, Pompeo described Kerry's meetings with Zarif as "unseemly and unprecedented" and "beyond inappropriate" and said: “This is a former secretary of state engaged with the world's largest state sponsor of terror, and according to him, he was talking to them, he was telling them to wait out this administration”.
A day earlier, President Donald Trump had accused Kerry of holding "illegal meetings with the very hostile Iranian regime, which can only serve to undercut our great work to the detriment of the American people."
"I'm speaking out as a citizen in America," Kerry countered the criticism in an interview with CNN that was aired Saturday morning. "If they don't want me to speak out, that's a different issue. But I'm telling you, I have not met with any Iranians since the President pulled out of the agreement, period," he added.
Kerry previously had said he had met with Zarif “three or four times” since leaving office, and that their discussions included the nuclear deal. They were both part of negotiations that led to the 2015 nuclear deal that Iran signed with the United States and five other world powers.
In his latest interview with CNN, the former US Secretary of State criticized Trump's decision to pull out of the nuclear deal arguing that staying in the deal would allow United States to work with other countries "to hold Iran accountable on the missiles, to do a better job in Yemen, to work on the issue of Hezbollah, which we don't like them supporting, which is a terrorist organization."
"But by just pulling out and angering everybody, I don't think it serves the best interests of our country and I'm free to speak my mind with respect to that."
President Trump who on several occasions, called the nuclear agreement the “worst deal” his country has ever made, announced on May 8 that his administration was not going to abide by the agreement anymore and started to re-impose the sanctions on Iran. The move was criticized by other countries, including the European allies of the United States.