Monday, 27 Jan 2020 - 1 of Shevat, 5780

EU’s foreign affairs chief Borrell invites Iran’s Foreign Minister to Brussels, Mike Pompeo deplores restrained European reaction to Soleimani’s death

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Borrell announced the invitation for Zarif to come to Brussels the day after a telephone conversation with the Iranian Foreign Minister. In that telephone conversation, the High Representative for EU foreign affairs and security stressed “the importance for de-escalation of tensions, to exercise restraint and to avoid further escalation’’ which, he said ‘’harms the entire region and its people.’’

“Frankly, the Europeans haven’t been as helpful as I wish that they could be,” Pompeo told ‘’Hannity’’ on Fox News. “The Brits, the French, the Germans all need to understand that what we did, what the Americans did, saved lives in Europe as well,” said US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.

BRUSSELS/WASHINGTON—The European Union’s foreign affairs chief Josep Borrell has invited Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif to Brussels, he announced.

The aim of the invitation is to “de-escalate” the situation in the Middle East following the killing of Iranian General Qassem Soleimani, leader of the Iranian Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) Quds Force unit. He was killed in an airstrike ordered by President Trump at Baghdad airport on Friday morning.

General Soleimani was Iran’s most powerful security and intelligence commander. He was the longtime leader of its Revolutionary Guards’ Quds Force, the foreign-facing branch of the country’s powerful security apparatus.

He worked closely with Iraqi and Lebanese allies, nurturing proxy forces to form a Shiite axis of power throughout the region. His profile rose amid the fight to prop up President Bashar al-Assad of Syria and later the fight against the Islamic State.

Borrell announced the invitation for Zarif to come to Brussels the day after a telephone conversation with the Iranian Foreign Minister. In that telephone conversation, the High Representative for EU foreign affairs and security stressed “the importance for de-escalation of tensions, to exercise restraint and to avoid further escalation’’ which, he said ‘’harms the entire region and its people.’’

The EU’s top diplomat offered his full engagement to contribute to de-escalation. He stressed that ultimately, a regional political solution was the only way forward and that the EU was ready to support this.

Borrell also spoke about “the importance of preserving” the 2015 nuclear agreement known as the JCPOA, the Joint Comprehensive Plan Of Action (JCPOA). In its statement, Borrell said that the agreement ‘’continues to be a corner stone of the global nuclear non-proliferation architecture and instrumental for the security of the region and the world.’’

In the meantime, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo deplored the European allies’ restrained responses to the U.S. strike that killed Soleimani.

“Frankly, the Europeans haven’t been as helpful as I wish that they could be,” Pompeo told ‘’Hannity’’ on Fox News. “The Brits, the French, the Germans all need to understand that what we did, what the Americans did, saved lives in Europe as well,” he said.

European leaders have called for ‘’restraint’’ in the wake of Soleimani’s death. German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas said on Twitter: “This action has not made it easier to reduce tensions. I made this point clearly to Secretary Pompeo as well.”

Pompeo said the response from U.S. allies in the Middle East had been “fantastic,” while others “haven’t been quite as good.”

“One of the things I heard today from some who have criticized President Trump, which I find odd, but the criticism has been that there’s no strategy. That’s willful blindness,” he added. “There’s been a deep strategy that President Trump laid down … almost three years ago … A central part of that is building out a coalition of the Saudis, the Emiratis, all the partners in the Gulf, the Israelis, all working together, who recognize that the Islamic Republic of Iran is the problem in the region, not the others.”

In the interview with Fox News, Pompeo said that Soleimani was preparing attacks that may have killed “significant amounts of Americans.”

In the interview with Fox News, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said that Soleimani was preparing attacks that may have killed “significant amounts of Americans.”

“Soleimani, the terrorist, was engaged in active plotting,” he said. “There was an attack that was imminent that could have killed dozens or hundreds of Americans. We found an opportunity and we delivered.We took him off the battlefield.”

Pompeo added Hannity had accurately described the 62-year-old Iranian as one of history’s worst terrorists.

 “We were successful at eliminating the risk that he would ever conduct a terror campaign anywhere in the world again and that he could ever put any American at risk one more time,” the secretary of state said.

Pompeo told Hannity that Suleimani had been traveling across the Middle East prior to his doomed landing in Iraq and that those travels were in preparation for “what they [the Iranians]were referring to as the ‘big attack’.”

“They were aiming to take down significant amounts of Americans,” he reiterated. “It would’ve undoubtedly killed locals too: Iraqis, Lebanese, Syrians perhaps — people all throughout the region.”

Pompeo said he couldn’t disclose more specific details but again emphasized that US President Trump’s decision to eliminate Soleimani saved American lives.

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