Iran’s foreign minister apologized on Sunday for the recorded comments that were leaked to the public last week, creating a firestorm in Iran less than two months before the presidential elections.

Mohammad Javad Zarif’s tapes included candid comments about the powerful Iranian general Qassem Soleimani, killed by a US drone in 2020. The attack at the time brought the US and Iran to the brink of war. Soleimani’s funeral processions in Iran drew millions to the streets.

In the tapes, Mr. Zarif criticizes Soleimani’s separate relations with Russia and his refusal to stop using the national carrier Iran Air for Syrian operations over Mr. Zarif’s objections. Iran Air has been sanctioned by the United States

Mr Zarif said in an Instagram post on Sunday that he hoped Soleimani’s family would forgive him. “I hope that the great Iranian people and all the lovers of the General (Soleimani) and in particular the great family of Soleimani, will forgive me,” he said.

Mr. Zarif’s leaked comments have been very controversial in Iran, where officials keep their words in a fierce political environment.