Pompeo meets EU’s top diplomat after Pence’s Iran statement

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo met with Federica Mogherini, the EU’s foreign policy chief. (File/AFP)
Updated 15 February 2019
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Pompeo meets EU’s top diplomat after Pence’s Iran statement

  • Mogherini helped seal the 2005 nuclear deal between Iran and world powers
  • Trump last year pulled the US out of the 2015 Iran deal

BRUSSELS: US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo met with the EU’s top diplomat in Brussels on Friday, a day after Vice President Mike Pence accused America’s traditional European allies of trying to undermine US sanctions against Iran.
The meeting with Federica Mogherini, the EU’s foreign policy chief, was scheduled before Pence’s rebuke of European powers during a Middle East peace conference in Warsaw on Thursday, which Mogherini missed, citing a scheduling conflict at NATO.
Mogherini, who helped seal the 2005 nuclear deal between Iran and world powers, greeted Pence in front of a bank of cameras at the EU’s headquarters in Brussels before they headed into a conference room for the breakfast meeting, that was scheduled to last for about an hour.
Mogherini shook her head and waved off a question from the media about what she thought of Pence’s speech in Warsaw on Thursday, where he accused the European Union of trying to break the impact of US economic sanctions on Iran.
Pence’s unusually tough words for allies Germany, France and Britain reflect Washington’s strategy to try to isolate Iran, in remarks that were likely to further strain transatlantic relations.
Trump last year pulled the United States out of the 2015 Iran deal, under which Tehran agreed to curbs on its nuclear program in return for the lifting of sanctions.
On Thursday, speaking at NATO before Pence’s comments, Mogherini said the United States and the European Union had “different views” on the Iran nuclear deal and said upholding it was critical to European security because it prevented Tehran from developing a nuclear weapon.
European countries say they share Washington’s concerns about Iran’s involvement in wars in Yemen and Syria but believe withdrawing from the nuclear deal was a mistake, and have promised to try to salvage the deal as long as Iran continues to abide by it. In practice, European companies have accepted new US sanctions on Iran and abandoned plans to invest there.
France, Germany and Britain agreed in January to open a new channel for non-dollar trade with Iran to avert US sanctions, through a Special Purpose Vehicle (SPV) meant to help match Iranian oil and gas exports against purchases of EU goods.
However, the trade vehicle will likely take months to become operational and diplomats said it will be used only for smaller trade, for example of humanitarian products or food .


Oman trying to reduce US-Iran tensions: foreign ministry tweet

Updated 27 min 46 sec ago
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Oman trying to reduce US-Iran tensions: foreign ministry tweet

  • ‘There is a danger that a war breaks out, hurting the whole world’
  • Tensions between the US and Iran have been building in the last few weeks

DUBAI: Oman is trying “with other parties” to reduce tensions between the United States and Iran, the Omani Foreign Ministry tweeted on Friday.

The tweet cited Yousuf bin Alawi bin Abdullah, the sultanate’s minister responsible for foreign affairs, who met on Monday in Tehran with Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif.

“There is a danger that a war breaks out, hurting the whole world ... Both parties, the American and the Iranian, are aware of the danger,” the tweet cited the Omani minister as saying in an interview with an Arabic publication.

Oman maintains friendly ties with both the United States and Iran and has previously been an important go-between for the two countries, which severed diplomatic relations in 1980. Washington and Tehran are in a protracted stand-off over Iran’s nuclear and missile programs.

Tensions have been building in the last few weeks. Washington has sent more military forces to the Middle East in a show of force against what US officials say are Iranian threats to its troops and interests in the region since the United States reinstated a range of economic sanctions against Iran.

President Hassan Rouhani said on Thursday that Iran will not surrender to US pressure and will not abandon its goals, even if it is bombed.

Another country trying to avert a confrontation in the region is Iraq. Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi said on Tuesday that Baghdad would send delegations to Washington and Tehran to help reduce tensions.