BRUSSELS—The European Union backs Iraq’s efforts to de-escalate growing tensions between the United States and Iran, said EU foreign policy chief at a joint press conference in Baghdad with Iraqi Foreign Minister Mohamad Ali Alhakim.
‘’We share completely the approach to a difficult region. Minister Mohamad Ali Alhakim and I talked at length about the increasing tensions around Iraq and the need, first and foremost, to avoid escalation, avoid any miscalculation that could lead to very dangerous consequences for Iraq, but also beyond, and the need to de-escalate and find and build avenues for dialogue and living together,’’ Mogherini said.
Mogherini’s visit in Baghdad came at a time of heightened Iranian-US tensions. The U.S. withdrew last year from the 2015 nuclear deal between Iran and world powers. Washington has sharply tightened sanctions on Iran, which has responded by stepping up uranium enrichment beyond limits set by the deal.
European countries do not directly support the US sanctions, but have been unable to come up with ways to allow Iran to avert them.
Iraq relies on the US for security assistance and imports energy and vital goods from Iran, with whom its Shi’ite majority shares religious ties.
“The unilateral cancellation of the nuclear agreement caused a crisis that could have been avoided through negotiations,” the Iraqi ministerhe said, adding that the EU could play an important role in de-escalating tensions.
Mogherini said the EU supports Iraq’s proposal to hold a regional conference between Iran and US-allied Sunni Gulf states like Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.
The EU top diplomat also discussed ‘’the situation in Palestine’’ with the Iraqi minister. ‘’We share the position – that the European Union shares with the entire League of Arab States – that only two-state solution with Jerusalem as the capital of both the state of Israel and the future state of Palestine is viable,’’ she stated.