DENVER—Feb. 18, 2014—The University of Denver's Center for Middle East Studies at the Josef Korbel School of International Studies today held an event of historic magnitude—a conversation (via live web conference) with Dr. Mohammad Javad Zarif, the Minister of Foreign Affairs for the Islamic Republic of Iran.
The conversation was moderated by Ambassador Christopher Hill, dean of the Josef Korbel School, and was attended by over 200 students, faculty and community members. Questions for Zarif were selected from previously-written audience submissions. Topics of discussion ranged from the serious--such as Iranian-U.S. relations; the crisis in Syria; internal human rights issues in Iran; and Iranian-Israeli relations--to the lighthearted, including Minister Zarif's (a University of Denver alumnus) favorite classes while at the University.
The live discussion came shortly after the first day of P5+1 negotiations in Vienna over Iran's nuclear program. On the negotiations Minister Zarif struck an optimistic tone, saying, "From my perspective I'm trying to see how best we can achieve a goal that is shared both by Iran as well as by our negotiating partners." He added, "Now we have a possibility to make a change, and this change will have an impact not only on how we deal with the nuclear issue but how Iran will deal with the West in particular."
"We thank Minister Zarif for agreeing to take part in this event and we're proud to count him as an esteemed alumnus of our school," said Dean Hill. "Today our students had a front row seat to history and the unparalleled opportunity to submit questions and listen in real-time to one of the key players on the global stage."
Nader Hashemi, Associate Professor of Middle East and Islamic Politics at the Korbel School and Director of the Center for Middle East Studies, echoed Hill's sentiments."The Center for Middle East Studies is thrilled that Minister Zarif took part in this momentous dialogue, particularly at such a critical juncture in US-Iran relations," he said. "This event will deepen the special relationship Minister Zarif has with the Korbel School, and it places Denver at the center of a truly historic process in international relations."
Prior to assuming his current post in August 2013, Dr. Zarif served as Iran's Ambassador to the United Nations (2002-2007) and Iran's Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs (1992-2002). In addition to his distinguished diplomatic career, Dr. Zarif is a proud University of Denver alumnus, earning both his M.A. and Ph.D. in International Studies from DU's Graduate School of International Studies (now the Josef Korbel School) in 1984 and 1988, respectively.