Last week, Mohammad Nahavandian, Chief of Staff in Hassan Rouhani’s office, made a two-leg tour to Sweden and Switzerland where he held negotiations with senior officials of both countries, including banking managers of Stockholm and Bern.
In its today edition, Principlist newspaper Sobh-e No, affiliated with Tehran’s mayor Mohammad-Bagher Qalibaf, questioned why Nahavandian, in his capacity as chief of staff, should be sent for a trip which apparently revolved around resuming banking ties which were severed by sanctions.
“Whatever the purpose of Nahavandian’s visit to Switzerland, economic or political” wrote Sobh-e No, “the better choice was to send an official engaged in these areas, particularly regarding massive hurdles regarding foreign exchange”.
The newspaper called it “strange” that president’s chief of staff had made this high-profile visit, saying that it reminded authority granted to former president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s chief of staff, Esfandiar Rahim Mashaei, a man who turned into a subject of extreme controversy and criticism among Principlists during the second term of Ahmadinejad’s presidency. “He had such extensive discretion that at times, ministers of the cabinet had to align themselves with him” the newspaper wrote.
Sobh-e No meanwhile speculated that Nahavandian’s negotiations in Switzerland may not have been limited to banking and financial subjects, reminding its readers that since 1980, Switzerland has acted as an intermediary between Tehran and Washington, administering the latter’s interest section in Iran. “It could be that Nahvandian’s visit to Switzerland aimed to establish secret ties” with Americans, wrote Sobh-e No.