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UK, France and Germany blame Iran for Saudi oil attacks

In a joint statement, the countries called on Tehran to choose dialogue over further “provocation”.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel, UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson and French President Emmanuel Macron during a meeting at the UN climate summit
German Chancellor Angela Merkel, UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson and French President Emmanuel Macron during a meeting at the UN climate summit
Image: Kay Nietfeld via PA Images

THE LEADERS OF France, Germany and Britain have agreed that Iran carried out this month’s attack on Saudi Arabian oil infrastructure and called on Tehran to choose dialogue over further “provocation”.

French President Emmanuel Macron, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and British Prime Minister Boris Johnson backed the conclusion of the US on the blasts at the Abqaiq and Khurais facilities.

Iran’s foreign minister, Mohammad Javad Zarif, denied any part in the attacks. He said Yemen’s Houthi rebels, who claimed responsibility, “have every reason to retaliate” for the Saudi-led coalition’s aerial attacks on their country.

He also stressed that on the eve of President Hassan Rouhani’s visit to the UN “it would be stupid for Iran to engage in such activity”.

Britain, France and Germany said in a joint statement after meeting on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly today: “It is clear to us that Iran bears responsibility for this attack. There is no other plausible explanation.”

However, the three countries – which remain party to a nuclear deal with Iran from which President Donald Trump withdrew the US – said the solution was diplomacy.

“We urge Iran to engage into such a dialogue and refrain from choosing provocation and escalation,” they said.

“The attacks also highlight the necessity of de-escalation in the region through sustained diplomatic efforts and engagement with all parties,” the leaders said.

France has been trying to find a diplomatic solution to US-Iranian tensions, which soared after the Saudi attacks.

Macron said at a news conference at the UN that he planned to meet separately with both Trump and Rouhani over the next day and would work to foster “the conditions for discussion” and not escalation.

Macron called the 14 September strikes “a game-changer, clearly” but reiterated France’s willingness to mediate.

Zarif, however, ruled out any Iran-US meeting. He said Iran had received no request from the US, “and we have made clear that a request alone will not do the job”.

He said Trump “closed the door to negotiations” with the latest US sanctions.

Zarif said he plans to meet on Wednesday with ministers of the five countries remaining in the 2015 nuclear deal — Russia, China, Britain, France and Germany.

2015 agreement

Britain, France and Germany said that they remained committed to the 2015 agreement with Iran that was negotiated under former president Barack Obama.

Johnson has urged Trump to strike a new nuclear deal with Iran. While Britain still backs the existing agreement and wants Iran to stick to its terms, Johnson said in the long term, there should be a new agreement.

“Whatever your objections with the old nuclear deal with Iran, it’s time now to move forward and do a new deal,” he said.

Asked later today about Johnson’s suggestion, Trump said he respects Johnson and believes the current agreement expires too soon.

Shortly before leaving for the UN meetings today, Iran’s Rouhani said on state television that his country will invite Persian Gulf nations to join an Iranian-led coalition “to guarantee the region’s security”.

Rouhani said the plan is not limited to security but also encompasses economic cooperation and an initiative for “long-term” peace. He planned on presenting details while at the United Nations.

Iran’s president had already called on Western powers yesterday to leave the security of the Persian Gulf to regional nations led by Tehran.

 With reporting by Associated Press and © AFP 2019 

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