EU sends Mogherini to fight for Iran deal in Washington

Federica Mogherini
Updated 16 October 2017
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EU sends Mogherini to fight for Iran deal in Washington

LUXEMBOURG/MOSCOW: The EU is to dispatch its chief diplomat Federica Mogherini to Washington next month to fight for the Iran nuclear deal after US President Donald Trump threatened to tear it up.
EU foreign ministers meeting in Luxembourg on Monday joined a chorus of international support for the landmark 2015 accord, warning that Trump’s hard-line stance jeopardized efforts to find a peaceful solution to the nuclear crisis with North Korea.
Trump caused alarm across the Atlantic with a belligerent speech on Friday in which he stopped short of pulling out of the agreement but warned he could do so at any time, restating his belief that the deal was letting Iran off the hook.
He left it to the US Congress to decide whether to reimpose sanctions that were lifted in return for Tehran abandoning its nuclear ambitions.
Mogherini, the EU’s foreign policy head, said she would “be in Washington in early November” to urge US lawmakers not to pull out of the deal, known officially as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), which was negotiated with Iran over 12 painstaking years by the US, Britain, France, China, Germany and Russia.
Ditching the deal when Tehran has repeatedly been certified as keeping up its end of the bargain by UN inspectors would send a signal to North Korea that negotiating with the international community is a waste of time, EU ministers fear.
“Clearly the ministers are concerned about the fact that messages on the JCPOA might affect negatively the possibility of opening negotiations or opening even the space for negotiations with the DPRK,” Mogherini told reporters after the bloc’s 28 foreign ministers held talks in Luxembourg.
German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel said Trump’s hard-line stance risked dragging the world back to a “military confrontation” with Iran.
“The threatened termination of the deal with Iran of course undermines the credibility of such international treaties,” he said.
The leaders of France, Britain and Germany gave a rebuke to Trump in a joint statement on Friday, which said the deal remained “in our shared national security interest.”
Russia and China also voiced their support for the agreement. French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian warned that any rupture would be “extremely damaging.”
EU officials have already been lobbying members of Congress not to turn their backs on the accord, which was endorsed unanimously by the UN Security Council, and Mogherini, touted as a Nobel Peace Prize candidate for her work on the deal, had already delivered an angry retort to Trump on Friday.
“It is clearly not in the hands of any president of any country in the world to terminate an agreement of this sort. The president of the United States has many powers (but) not this one,” she said.
Diplomats say that European powers share some of Trump’s concerns about Iran’s activities not covered by the nuclear deal — notably its ballistic missile program and involvement in numerous Middle East conflicts, including the war in Syria.
But they say these should be dealt with in other forums and warn it would be a calamitous mistake to sacrifice the achievement of the nuclear deal.
Meanwhile, Ali Larijani, the Speaker of the Iranian Parliament, said that Tehran had a specific plan of action if the US withdrew from the nuclear pact and that Washington would regret any such decision, the Interfax news agency reported.
Larijani made the statement in St. Petersburg where he was taking part in a parliamentary forum.


US’s Pompeo faces thorny issues on India visit, from trade to Russia arms deals

Updated 46 min 13 sec ago
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US’s Pompeo faces thorny issues on India visit, from trade to Russia arms deals

NEW DELHI: US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo arrived on Tuesday for talks with Indian leaders in New Delhi, where he is expected to tackle a host of delicate issues from trade to India’s longstanding defense and energy ties to Russia and Iran.
Relations between the United States and India have improved dramatically since the Cold War but they have still fallen short of their promise and now have run into serious problems over tariffs, flows of data and tighter Indian rules on online commerce in one of the world’s fastest growing large markets.
Pompeo landed in New Delhi late on Tuesday night after an unannounced trip to Kabul.
He will kick off his visit to India by calling on Prime Minister Narendra Modi who was re-elected for a second term last month with a powerful mandate that analysts say gives him the chance to take bold reforms to propel Asia’s third largest economy toward faster growth.
Just ahead of his visit, New Delhi imposed tariffs on some US goods after President Donald Trump’s administration threw India out of a group of countries that were allowed duty free access for some of their products into the large US market.
While trade issues are led by the US Trade Representative’s office and the commerce departments, Pompeo is expected to raise some of the concerns US companies have about new rules on local storage of data as well as restrictions on foreign companies’ online operations in India.
“We expect trade and ecommerce to figure in the meetings with the PM and the foreign minister, we are ready to engage them on data issues,” said an Indian government official, speaking on condition of anonymity in line with service rules.

Pressure
Pompeo’s visit is expected to lay the ground for talks between Trump and Modi later in the week on the sidelines of the G20 summit in the Japanese city of Osaka.
India hopes that this week’s high-level meetings will help re-start talks over a trade package the two had been negotiating for months, the official said.
In recent weeks, the United States has also stepped up pressure on India not to proceed with its purchase of S-400 surface-to-air missile systems from Russia.
India says the missiles are necessary to bolster defenses against China, but Washington has said it would prefer India to consider other options including US defense firms for alternative weapons systems.
A second Indian official said India believed it had a case for a waiver from US sanctions should it go ahead with the missile system purchase from Russia.
Washington has also threatened to impose sanctions on Turkey, a NATO ally, which is also buying the S-400 system.
Under US pressure India has stopped buying oil from Iran, one of its top suppliers, and the two Indian officials said the oil-dependent economy had taken a hit as a result.
Now, with tensions rising between the United States and Iran, New Delhi is further worried about the security of its energy supplies.