BERLIN - German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas has said that he offered top EU diplomat Josep Borrell to convene an EU foreign ministers' meeting later in the week to agree on a "common line of conduct" in light of growing US-Iran tensions.
"Against the backdrop of the escalating conflict between the United States and Iran, the European Union has an important role to play. As Europeans, we support tested and stable channels of dialogue, of which we must make full use in this situation. Therefore, I suggested that Josep Borrell hold a meeting of [EU] foreign ministers this week to promptly agree on a common line of conduct," Maas said in a statement, published by his ministry on Sunday.
According to the minister, the Primary interest now is the stability and Unity of Iraq, whose soil has become a battleground for the US-Iran conflict. Iraq, he went on, should not "fall victim to the recent escalation."
"After the resolution of the Iraqi parliament [on expulsion of foreign troops], we will hold talks with the Iraqi government to clarify how they will build future relations. We will respect any decision," he added.
Maas also stated that Germany, along with its allies, had helped Iraq in the fight against the Islamic State terror group (ISIS, banned in Russia), which "is not over yet.
"We are ready to continue providing assistance if it is needed and the situation allows for it. To discuss this with international partners, a meeting of the anti-ISIS coalition should be held as soon as possible," the minister said.
The US-Iranian tensions took a new turn after a US drone attack killed Qaseem Soleimani, the commander of Iran’s's elite Quds Force, and Abu Mahdi Muhandis, a senior member of Iraq's Iranian-backed Shia Popular Mobilization Forces, in Baghdad on Friday. The two were blamed by Washington for organizing violent demonstrations near the US Embassy in Iraq on December 31.
The killing prompted Iranian President Hassan Rouhani to warn that Tehran will take revenge for what it views to be a heinous crime. Baghdad has condemned the attack as a violation of Iraqi sovereignty, with the national parliament voting to expel foreign troops from the country.
US President Donald Trump, in turn, threatened Iraq with "sanctions like they've never seen before ever," saying US troops will not leave the country unless America is paid back for its "very extraordinarily expensive airbase" located there.
As for Iran’s threats, Trump said that the United States had identified 52 targets, including those important for the Iranian culture, that would be struck should Tehran attack American individuals or assets. (Sputnik)