Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 15 November 2019

EU urges for dialogue window between Iran and US

Tehran called on to abide by landmark 2015 nuclear deal

Deescalating tensions in the Strait of Hormuz was discussed in the talks chaired by Federica Mogherini. AFP
Deescalating tensions in the Strait of Hormuz was discussed in the talks chaired by Federica Mogherini. AFP

The European Union has thrown its support behind French-led efforts to engineer US-Iran talks and seize upon the momentum emanating from the G7 summit.

But Brussels was insistent Iran needed to abide by the landmark 2015 nuclear deal and reiterated it remained the only way forward in the face of US opposition.

Iran’s foreign minister Javad Zarif was at G7 talks in France earlier this week on the invitation of President Emmanuel Macron. Talks between US President Donald Trump and his opposite Iranian number Hassan Rouhani have been proposed.

Mr Trump, who pulled out of the 2015 nuclear deal last year and re-enacted sanctions on Iran appeared open to the meeting although support in Tehran has been lukewarm amid a hardliner backlash.

Iran breached certain limits on its nuclear production imposed by the accord and has threatened to go further if its ailing economy is not supported. According to a quarterly report by the UN atomic watchdog shared on Friday Iran continues to enrich uranium to 4.5%, above the 3.67% allowed.

“Any development that goes in the direction of talks, contacts channels that open up and diplomacy is welcomed and supported by the European Union,” said the EU’s foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini.

“What happened in Biartitz a few days ago goes in that direction and is extremely welcomed and this is extremely supported by the European Union,” she said at the sidelines of an informal EU summit in Helsinki.

On Friday morning Ms Mogherini chaired talks with the foreign ministers of the UK, France and Germany over Iran.

Arriving for the meetings Germany’s Heiko Maas said the priority was opening a window of dialogue between Tehran and Washington.

"Especially after the G7 summit in Biarritz we are all of the opinion that the momentum that perhaps exists, the readiness for dialogue on both sides... must now be used,” he said.

In a statement beforehand UK foreign minister Dominic Raab said the “discussions will build on the momentum of the positive G7 talks on Iran as we seek to de-escalate tension.”

European leaders have consistently urged Tehran to abide by the 2015 deal, officially known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action.

“My role...is to preserve the full implementation of the existing agreements. Again if something else can be built on it, this would be welcomed and accompanied by the European Union," Ms Mogherini said.

She said Brussels's main message was that they wanted "to support any initiative that is inclusive and that has a full ownership in the region, that can lead to de-escalation, and even if limited, to more cooperation in the Gulf."

The group of four also discussed the heightened tensions in the Arabian Gulf after attacks on oil tankers and the Iranian seizure of a British-flagged vessel last month.

Mr Raab said there needed to be broad international support to tackle threats to freedom of navigation in the Strait of Hormuz.

Updated: August 30, 2019 07:37 PM

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