EU Leaders Convene for Emergency Talks on Migration

Brussels, July 16 (Prensa Latina) The European Union (EU) Ministers of Foreign Affairs will have an ''emergency'' meeting in Helsinki on Wednesday in an attempt to bridge their deep divisions over migrant rescue missions in the Mediterranean.

Such a meeting, an initiative of France and Germany supported by Finland - in charge of the pro tempore chairmanship of the EU -, hopes to lay the foundations of a 'coalition' of nations willing to share migrants rescued, without having to engage in harsh negotiations on a case-by-case basis.

In the letter of invitation to their European counterparts, the Finnish Minister of the Interior, Maria Ohisalo, assured that 'the situation in the Mediterranean Sea requires our immediate involvement'.

It is aimed at setting up 'strong provisions for what follows the search and rescue operations, in order to guarantee a rapid response after the landing,' according to the statement.

The Finnish official pointed out that such treaties 'must be based on a shared responsibility involving a wide-large number' of nations.

The figures of migrants' arrivals at the European coasts were drastically reduced since the arrival of over a million migrants in 2015, but the division between the European governments did not diminished, while the Mediterranean countries of the EU are asking for more support and solidarity.

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Tehran rejects Macron’s call for wider intl talks beyond nuclear deal – ministry

Iran rejected French calls for wider international talks over its nuclear and military ambitions, according to a state TV report.

President Emmanuel Macron had said the previous day that Paris and Washington both wanted to stop Tehran getting nuclear arms and new talks should focus on curbing its ballistic missiles program.

Iran’s Foreign Ministry said on Friday it would not hold any discussions beyond the 2015 pact which US President Donald Trump abandoned last year. “Talking about issues beyond the deal… will lead to further mistrust among the remaining signatories of the deal,” Reuters quoted Foreign Ministry spokesperson Abbas Mousavi as saying.

“The Europeans have so far failed to fulfill their commitments under the deal and… to protect Iran’s interests after America’s illegal withdrawal,” Mousavi added.

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Use Huawei And Lose Access To Our Data, US Tells Germany

Berlin: The United States may no longer share sensitive security information with nations that install next-generation networks, like those made by China's Huawei, that it regards as insecure, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said on Friday.

Pompeo issued the warning after meeting his German counterpart Heiko Maas in Berlin, which has so far stood with European partners in resisting US calls to ban the state-owned manufacturer from 5G mobile networks now being built.

While he said all countries would take their own sovereign decisions on which manufacturers to use, the United States would continue to warn them of the risks, including the possibility that Washington would have to withold information.

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"(There is) a risk we will have to change our behaviour in light of the fact that we can't permit data on private citizens or data on national security to go across networks in that we don't have confidence (in)," he told a news conference.

Pompeo is expected to continue pressing the issue in a meeting with Chancellor Angela Merkel on his delayed trip to Berlin, the first stop in a five-day European trip that will also take him to Switzerland, the Netherlands and Britain.

Pompeo urged close ally Britain this month not to use Huawei's technology to build new 5G networks because of concerns it could be a vehicle for Chinese spying.

The United States is at odds with its German allies on a host of issues, from trade to military spending and nuclear non-proliferation.

Pompeo's visit had been scheduled earlier this month, but was called off at the last minute as tensions rose over Iran, on whose nuclear programme Berlin and Washington do not see eye to eye.

A Chinese foreign ministry spokesman, responding to similar comments on Huawei made by US Vice President Mike Pence in Canada on Thursday, said the United States had yet to prove that Huawei's products presented a security risk.

"We hope that the United States can stop these mistaken actions which are not at all commensurate with their status and position as a big country," said spokesman Geng Shuang.

Pompeo also urged Germany to follow Britain in proscribing Lebanon's Iran-backed Hezbollah group and boost military spending.

He also said that the United States was attempting to verify reports that a senior North Korean official involved in Pyongyang's non-proliferation talks with Washington had been executed.

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Tehran will ‘quickly’ restart nuclear program if EU fails to negotiate with Iran – Russian deputy FM

Tehran can easily restore its nuclear potential if the EU succumbs to the US pressure to reinstall sanctions against Iran, which were lifted under the 2015 nuclear deal (also known as the JCPOA), a top Russian diplomat has said.

Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov said on Thursday that Iran hadn’t yet violated its commitments under the nuclear accord with world powers. Tehran still stores less than 130 tons of heavy water – material used as the neutron moderator in the reactors.

However, it will exceed the limits if JCPOA members won’t find solutions “first of all to ensure the legitimate economic interests of the Islamic republic,” the deputy FM said after a meeting with his Iranian counterpart in Tehran.

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Ryabkov added, that there is “no doubt Iran can quickly restore uranium enrichment up to 20 percent” as it had done before the JCPOA capped that level to 3.67 percent. The diplomat, however, dismissed concerns about this potential breach of the JCPOA terms as an “abstract” threat. He said that in order to keep Iran’s nuclear program under control, it is important to secure Tehran’s participation in the non-proliferation treaty (NPT) “regardless of what fate will befall the JCPOA.”

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The JCPOA was signed in 2015 by Iran, the US, Great Britain, France, Germany, Russia, and China to put limits on Iran’s nuclear activities in exchange for the lift of sanctions. However, last year Donald Trump’s administration unilaterally withdrew from the deal, reimposed crippling sanctions on Iran and started pushing other countries to cut ties with Tehran. Washington says Iran continues to pursue nuclear arms, a claim Tehran has constantly denied.

Russia proposed a set of its own “full-frame” measures to save the JCPOA which it hopes to further work on with Iran and other “sensible parties,” Ryabkov told RT after the bilateral talks. Moscow also urged all JCPOA partners to meet as soon as possible to work out a roadmap which “won’t let the situation to degrade.”

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‘As if Germany is a US colony’: Bundestag energy chief lashes out at Russia sanctions

Only the US – not Germany or the EU – is interested in economic sanctions against Russia, the head of the Bundestag’s economy and energy committee has said. German MPs are looking at ways to lift the restrictions, he added.

Bundestag energy and economy chief Klaus Ernst of Die Linke party accused the US of behaving as if Germany is its colony, as Washington tries to bully Europeans out of buying Russian gas.

“Those measures don't only target Russians, they deliberately target Europeans, for example German energy companies involved in Nord Stream 2,” he said at a conference on the prospects of energy cooperation between Russia and the EU, organized by the Russian Gas Society – an association of Russian energy companies, relevant research institutions and local administrations.

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US officials, including President Donald Trump, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Berlin ambassador Richard Grenell, have mounted an offensive against the Russian-led Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline that is expected to be completed in 2019. With the stated goal of countering Russian “leverage,” they are threatening European companies with sanctions if they continue investing in the project.

“The actions of the US ambassador to Germany are simply unacceptable,” Ernst said, as cited by Russian media.

It's as if Germany is a US colony.

The real goal, according to Ernst, is to make the EU buy American gas instead: “The Americans are using politics to realize their own interests in this field.”

The threats have had no effect so far, with Nord Stream 2 construction continuing to surge ahead. The Gazprom-owned pipeline's operator stated that each of its European partners, which include German, French, British, Dutch and Austrian companies, have invested around a billion euros in it.

Speaking of other economic measures in place against Russia, Ernst noted that the US is the only party that wins from them.

“There are currently discussions about this in the Bundestag economy committee, and it is growing stronger – how sanctions against Russia can be lifted. Neither Germany, nor Europe is interested in these sanctions. The only ones winning from these sanctions are the Americans.”

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‘No one in Europe’ wants second Iraq: Austrian president slams ‘provocative’ US Iran policy

The US’ reckless maximum pressure campaign against Tehran and nations dealing with it is deeply provocative and hurts international relations, Austrian President Alexander Van der Bellen said, warning against a major “crisis.”

Speaking at a joint press conference with the Russian President Vladimir Putin in Sochi on Wednesday, Van der Bellen slammed the US sanctions against Iran by saying that such policies “do not help international relations” and only erode the system of global treaties.

READ MORE: US orders all non-emergency personnel to leave Iraq

“The fact that the US withdrew from the Iranian nuclear deal undermines trust in this agreement in general,” he told journalists.

It is particularly provocative that the US reimposed its sanctions against Iran after pulling out of the deal and threatened the companies, which continued to work with Tehran, with punishment.

The Austrian leader also admitted that Europe has so far failed to “come up with a mechanism that would help companies effectively circumvent” the US restrictions. He also said that creating such an instrument is a “very laborious” task.

Van der Bellen then warned the US against going down its chosen path by saying that any additional pressure Washington puts on Iran “is going to undermine political relations” on the international arena “even further.”

If America continues to put pressure on Iran, the whole situation risks spilling into another major crisis “as it happened in Iraq some years ago,” the president warned, without elaborating.

No one in Europe wants this to happen.

Van der Bellen’s words came amid growing fears that a military conflict could potentially break out between the US and Iran. These concerns were further fueled by the US decision to recall all non-essential personnel from its embassy in the Iraqi capital of Baghdad and a consulate in Iraq’s northern town of Erbil. The developments have prompted Germany and the Netherlands to temporarily suspend its missions aimed at training the Iraqi forces.

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Earlier, the Iraqi ambassador to Moscow said that Baghdad would not let the US use the Iraqi territory in the event of a war against Iran, adding that it is not interested in another “devastating” conflict in the region.

Washington has deployed the USS ‘Abraham Lincoln’ Carrier Strike Group, as well as B-52 bombers, to “send a message” to Iran while constantly citing an allegedly increased threat from Tehran and criticizing those of its allies who doubted the claim.

US President Donald Trump has recently dismissed a New York Times report of a plan to send “120,000 troops” to the Middle East as “fake news,” saying that it would “hopefully” not be necessary. He added, however, that if it did come to a hot conflict, “we’d send a hell of a lot more troops than that.”

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EU ‘rejects ultimatums’, says it’s still committed to Iran nuclear deal after Tehran scaledown

The EU is committed to preserving the nuclear deal with Iran and helping the nation dodge US economic sanctions, and will not bend to any ultimatums, top European diplomats say. Earlier, Tehran suspended some of its commitments.

On Wednesday, Tehran announced it will halt disposal of excessive heavy water and uranium, which is one of the key terms of the 2015 nuclear agreement (known as the JCPOA). Unless European signatories deliver on their promises to Iran, it may enact a further rollback in 60 days.

EU members pledged to create a special financial mechanism which would allow business to be done in Iran without being on the radar of the US, which threatens anyone dealing with the country with economic sanctions.

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Top EU diplomats said on Thursday they remain committed to the deal but will not bend to any ultimatums.

“We strongly urge Iran to continue to implement its commitments under the JCPoA in full as it has done until now and to refrain from any escalatory steps,” the officials said in a statement.

We reject any ultimatums and we will assess Iran’s compliance on the basis of Iran’s performance regarding its nuclear-related commitments under the JCPoA and the NPT (Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons).

Iran for its part stressed that it wants to fix the JCPOA and not abandon it.

“Our goal is to strengthen the JCPOA and bring it back on track,” Behrouz Kamalvandi, spokesman of the Atomic Energy Organization, said the same day.

Earlier, Tehran clarified that its decision to partially suspend compliance with the JCPOA was in response to the US’ withdrawal and the failure by European signatories to alleviate the damage done by American sanctions.

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The deal offered Iran the lifting of sanctions in exchange for placing restrictions on its nuclear industry. Lucrative business deals with European and American companies were expected to follow, boosting Iran’s economy and building trust with the West.

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Iran tells foreign envoys it will 'stop implementation' of some nuclear deal commitments

Iran told ambassadors from the UK, France, Germany, China and Russia that it will renege on “some commitments” under the 2015 nuclear deal, but will not quit the pact completely.

Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani appeared Wednesday on national TV to announce the decision to scale down implementation of the 2015 deal, which is officially called Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA). He said the Iranian move was reciprocal action to US complete withdrawal from it under President Donald Trump.

Rouhani announced that Tehran will be gradually suspending its commitments under the deal, giving other parties subsequent periods of 60 days to negotiate a reversal of those actions. He blamed European signatories of failing to compensate to Iran the damage done by US unilateral sanctions after Washington broke its part of the bargain.

Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif earlier told reporters Tehran would be backing out of some "voluntary commitments" under the 2015 agreement as a response to the EU's inability to stand up to the pressure of Washington's attempts to isolate Iran.

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The JCPOA was signed under Barack Obama and offered Iran lifting of international and unilateral economic sanctions in exchange for voluntarily restricting its nuclear program. The document was signed by Iran, China, Britain, France, Germany, Russia, the US and the EU.

Trump sided with Israel in calling the agreement “the worst deal ever” and refused to keep Washington’s part of the bargain in May last year. The US has since re-imposed the unilateral sanctions, which had been lifted from Iran under the JCPOA terms, and is currently seeking to cripple its oil export by targeting buyers with secondary sanctions.

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