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Britain Warns of ‘Unwanted’ Iran-US Conflict

Britain Warns of ‘Unwanted’ Iran-US Conflict

Monday, 13 May, 2019 - 11:00
British Foreign Minister Jeremy Hunt. Reuters file photo
Asharq Al-Awsat

Iran and the United States could trigger a conflict by accident, Britain's foreign minister said on Monday, urging a period of calm ahead of talks between the European Union and US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.

"We are very worried about a conflict, about the risk of a conflict ... of an escalation that is unintended," Britain's Jeremy Hunt told reporters as he arrived in Brussels for a meeting of EU foreign ministers.

US President Donald Trump is seeking to isolate Tehran by cutting off its oil exports after pulling out of a 2015 deal aimed at curbing Iran's nuclear program. Trump has also sent US warplanes and an aircraft carrier to the Gulf.

Hunt, who was due later to meet Pompeo along with the foreign ministers of France and Germany and the EU's diplomatic chief, also expressed concern about the risks of a nuclear arms race in the Middle East if Iran were to acquire such weapons.

"We need to make sure that we don't end up putting Iran back on the path to re-nuclearization," Hunt said, calling for "a period of calm so that everyone understands what the other side is thinking".

Trump has sent an aircraft carrier and B-52 bombers to the Gulf in a show of force against what officials in Washington have said is a threat to US troops in the region.

The EU is trying to implement a new channel to allow Iran to sell its oil and circumvent newly-instated US sanctions, but setting it up is proving complex.

The US State Department said in a statement that Pompeo had canceled a planned stopover in Moscow to go instead to Brussels "to discuss recent threatening actions and statements" by Iran.

After Brussels Pompeo will travel to Russia's Black Sea resort of Sochi for talks on Iran with President Vladimir Putin and Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov.

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