Iranians criticize deputy FM over remarks on Afghan refugees

TEHRAN, Iran (AP) — Iranians have harshly criticized the country’s deputy foreign minister after he threatened to expel Afghan refugees from Iran in retaliation for U.S. sanctions.

The semi-official Tasnim news agency on Thursday criticized Abbas Araghchi, saying: “We wish you had not made the statement.”

Some reactions were stronger: “Firing Araghchi is the minimum response to his huge mistake,” a prominent hard-line political activist, Ali Naderi tweeted.

Others called Araghchi’s remarks “throwing words under pressure” and accused him of using Afghans as “leverage” for receiving concessions.

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Araghchi said Wednesday that if U.S. sanctions bring Iran crude exports to zero, “it is possible that we ask our Afghan brothers and sisters to leave Iran” because hosting them annually costs the equivalent of several billion dollars.

Some 3 million Afghan refugees live in Iran.

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