Politics

Germany to mediate in Iran

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The policy director of Germany’s Foreign Ministry, Jens Plötner, is heading to Iran on Thursday, according to report in German daily Süddeutsche Zeitung (SZ).

Plötner is due to meet Iran’s Vice Foreign Minister Seyed Abbas Aragchi, one of the negotiators involved in the 2015 nuclear deal between Iran, the US, Britain, Germany, France, China and Russia, the SZ reports.

Germany’s Foreign Ministry has called the political situation in the Persian Gulf “decidedly serious,” with regard to the tension building up between Washington and its Arab allies, and Tehran, since US President Donald Trump announced his withdrawal from the nuclear deal last year.

“There is a high chance the situation will escalate — for example because of a misunderstanding or an incident,” the SZ quotes the Foreign Ministry as saying.

Political dialogue was “of major significance” in this situation, the ministry added.

Nuclear deal on the agenda

Earlier this month, Iran announced it would scrap dome of the “voluntary committments” made in the 2015 accord that Trump abruptly pulled out of last year. Berlin is keen to save the deal, officially called the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), which took 20 months to negotiate and followed years of diplomatic fine-tuning.

Read more: Donald Trump threatens ‘official end of Iran’

The deal is aimed at curbing Iran’s nuclear program in exchange for the lifting of crippling sanctions. Since the US left the deal last year, it has reintroduced sanctions, leading the UK, France and Germany to set up the INSTEX trade mechanism to facilitate trade despite US sanctions.

European countries are under pressure to save the deal, as Tehran has set a July 7 deadline to negotiate new terms for the JCPOA, with hard-liners like Iran’s supreme leader openly criticizing the accord. Iran has already announced a rise in production of low-enriched uranium. If continued, Iran could exceed the limits set in the nuclear accord.

US troop buildup

Meanwhile, the Pentagon is to present plans on Thursday to send 10,000 additional troops to the Persian Gulf, the Associated Press (AP) reports.

Officials told AP that the move was not due to any new threat from Iran, but was aimed at reinforcing security in the region.

At the beginning of May, the US sent an aircraft carrier strike group to the Middle Eastas well as B-52 bomber aircraft.

ng/rt (AP, Reuters)

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