Asharq Al-awsat English Middle-east and International News and Opinion from Asharq Al-awsat Newspaper

4 European Countries Ask Iran to Amend its Regional Stances

4 European Countries Ask Iran to Amend its Regional Stances

Sunday, 3 March, 2019 - 09:45
EU Energy Commissioner Miguel Arias Canete and Iranian nuclear energy chief Ali Akhbar Salehi shake hands after a joint news conference in Brussels, Belgium, November 26, 2018. (Reuters)

Four European countries have asked Iran to amend its positions in four countries: Lebanon, Syria, Yemen and Iraq, and strengthen its relations with them in accordance with the Vienna Convention. Tehran must “reconcile with the international community rather than collide with it”, said European diplomatic reports sent to Beirut.

France, Britain, Germany and Italy, also known as E4, hold regular meetings between their representatives and Iranian representatives to discuss unacceptable actions in Lebanon, Syria, Yemen and Iraq.

A European source said that some of the issues addressed at the meetings are met with understanding, while others do not, because they deal with Iran’s activities and attempt to make it abandon its financial and military support of political forces, which it supports with the pretext of helping them in liberation efforts.

The E4 asserted that such an argument is unacceptable and constitutes a violation of the sovereignty of these countries.

However, the group's sources confirmed to Asharq Al-Awsat that Iran's objections to these demands will not deter it from continuing to persuade it to "normalize its relations with the West". The normalization will put an end to the negative effects that could result from the sharp conflict between US President Donald Trump and Iran.

The continuation of the conflict could threaten the security of a number of countries where Tehran enjoys political influence and a strong military force that does not comply with the orders of the executive power of the state. This force is allegedly used to liberate occupied territory.

"At the same time as Trump is stepping up his attack on Iran, France is leading the European Quartet to calm the situation, recognizing that such escalation carries a lot of risk," the sources added.

The member states of the E4 are committed to the policy of French President Emmanuel Macron, which has two goals: non-proliferation by keeping Iran within the nuclear agreement and preventing it from obtaining an atomic bomb, and protecting national security.

The group regretted the US decision to withdraw from the 2015 nuclear deal, saying it will continue to support it.

The European countries have identified three issues that Iran must recognize in order to "normalize relations with the West." First, it must recognize the danger of Shiite military forces it has formed, which compete with state structures and threaten many Arab countries in Lebanon, Syria, Iraq and Yemen.

Second, the group rejects Iran's national program for the production of ballistic missiles and the Iranian national program for its development, deployment and construction of such missiles in countries where it has military forces.

The third is to “give up its threats to the existence and security of Israel.”

A senior Lebanese official assessed the role played by the E4 as "good, but it would be difficult to pass as long as Trump insists on his position to withdraw from the nuclear agreement."

"The European countries should coordinate with the US President to reach a solution that does not show that he is backtracking on his stance,” he added. Moreover, he said the three steps set by the E4 could be a draft for this solution “after adding paragraphs that reassure Iran.”

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