(March 2, 2018 / JNS) European powers have initiated meetings with Iran over the Islamic Republic’s aggressive role in the Middle East in advance of President Donald Trump’s deadline to address his concerns with the 2015 nuclear agreement with Iran.
The United Kingdom, France and Germany, along with Italy and the European Union, have initiated discussion with Iran to confront its regional activities amid concerns by Israel, Arab Gulf States and the United States over Iran’s involvement in conflicts in Syria, Lebanon, Yemen and Iraq.
European and Iranian officials already met last month at the Munich Security Conference, where they addressed Iran’s role in the conflict in Yemen.
“In Munich, we laid out what was expected from them in Yemen. They obviously said it wasn’t them, but we drew some conclusions to move forward together,” said a senior European diplomat, reported Reuters.
At the same time, representatives from the United Kingdom, France and Germany have been meeting with U.S. officials to strengthen the Iran nuclear deal ahead of a May 12 deadline for Trump to issue sanctions relief on Iran. The State Department has instructed its negotiators that any agreement must address Iran’s ballistic-missile program and inspector access to Iranian military sites, extending the date when key provisions of the agreement expire, according to The New York Times.
The talks also come amid heightening tensions between Israel and Iran over its involvement in Syria.
Last month, Israel shot down an Iranian-drone that had crossed into its airspace, which led to an Israeli attack on a Syrian military base and an Israeli F-16 fighter jet being shot down. This past week, it was also revealed that Iran has purportedly established a permanent base outside of Damascus that houses missiles capable of striking Israel.
A senior European diplomat told Reuters that the aim is to discuss the role of pro-Iranian militias in southern Lebanon and Syria in their next round of meetings.
“In public, they [Iranians] say of course they do not want to accept this,” said a senior E.U. official. “But we believe there are grounds for progress.”