The foreign ministry has confirmed a “completely accidental” encounter between Obama and Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly in New York on Monday, without denying there was a handshake as reported by Iran’s semi-official ISNA news agency.

But hardline lawmakers went on the offensive against Zarif.

“With whose permission have they met Obama?” deputy Bahram Biranvand asked angrily. “Last time they talked to Obama on the phone and this time, with whose permission” did Iran’s minister shake hands with the US leader?

Biranvand was referring to President Hassan Rouhani’s historic telephone call with his American counterpart in 2013.