Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 9 August 2020

EU foreign policy chief warns against 'dangerous adventures' in the Gulf

Federica Mogherini backs Iraq’s attempts to ease tensions between the US and Iran

European Union foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini and Iraqi Foreign Minister Mohamed Alhakim hold a a press conference after their meeting at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Baghdad, Iraq, on Saturday, July 13, 2019. AP Photo
European Union foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini and Iraqi Foreign Minister Mohamed Alhakim hold a a press conference after their meeting at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Baghdad, Iraq, on Saturday, July 13, 2019. AP Photo

The European Union backs Iraq’s attempts to calm tensions between the US and Iran and has warned countries against pursuing “dangerous adventures” in the region, its foreign policy chief said on Saturday.

Speaking at a news conference with Iraqi Foreign Minister Mohammed Al Hakim in Baghdad, Federica Mogherini said the bloc supported Iraq’s policy of building international relations between Gulf states.

“The minister and I talked at length about the increasing tensions around Iraq and the need first and foremost to avoid escalation, avoid any miscalculation, that could lead to very dangerous consequences – first and foremost for Iraq but also beyond that,” she said.

Ms Mogherini’s visit comes as rising tension between Donald Trump’s administration and the Iranian regime led to the downing of a US drone and the American president calling off air strikes minutes before launching.

Washington has tightened sanctions sharply on Tehran, which has responded by stepping up uranium enrichment beyond limits agreed in the 2015 nuclear deal.

President Trump withdrew the US from the 2015 agreement signed under the Obama administration between Iran and international powers.

EU states do not directly support Mr Trump’s sanctions but have been unable to come up with ways to allow Iran to avert them.

Iraq is seeking to mediate between the two powers, as it depends on the US for security and shares economic links with Iran as well as religious ties with its Shiite majority.

Mr Al Hakim said a conflict would also complicate counterterrorism efforts.

“We also affirmed to Ms Mogherini that Iraq should not become a battleground for this conflict, but rather it should play a role in helping solve this crisis alongside other Arab countries especially Kuwait and Oman,” he said.

“The unilateral cancellation of the nuclear agreement caused a crisis that could have been avoided through negotiations.”

Iraq has proposed a conference bringing Iran and Gulf states such as Saudi Arabia and the UAE together, an idea backed by the EU.

Ms Mogherini said:“The European experience is that even in the most difficult times it is always better to sit and talk rather than to explore avenues of the unknown that can be dangerous for everybody.”

Updated: July 14, 2019 01:19 PM

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