German FM in Iraq as part of ME tour - GulfToday

German FM in Iraq as part of ME tour

BarhamSalih-HeikoMaas-

Iraq’s President Barham Salih meets Heiko Maas in Baghdad on Saturday. Reuters

German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas arrived in Iraq on Saturday as part of a wider trip to the Middle East seeking to de-escalate tensions between Iran and the United States.

In a statement, Maas’s office said European nations must engage with the region at a time of heightened concern following recent US naval movements in the Gulf.

“We cannot just call for dialogue; we must conduct it - particularly where differences appear unbridgeable and long-standing conflicts run deep. The danger that miscalculations, misunderstandings and provocations in a very tense region could lead to unpredictable consequences is clear there,” his office said.

The German envoy was expected to meet Iraq’s president, prime minister and foreign minister to discuss regional security and bilateral relations and investment, said Ahmed Mahjoub, a spokesman for Iraq’s Foreign Ministry.

Maas’s visit was not announced ahead of time for security reasons. The foreign minister is expected in Iran on Monday.

His office says Germany and Europe are determined to preserve the 2015 international nuclear accord with Iran, calling it a “key factor for stability and security in the region.”

Additional sanctions imposed on Iran by the United States show that Washington’s offer of talks is not genuine, Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Abbas Mousavi said on Saturday.

“It was only necessary to wait one week until the claim of the president of America about talks with Iran were proven to be hollow,” Mousavi said in a statement. “The American policy of maximum pressure is a defeated policy.”

Iranian Defence Minister Amir Hatami noted the presence of American warships in the region on Saturday and said that the Islamic Republic’s enemies are afraid of conflict because of the country’s advanced offensive and defensive power, according to the Iranian Students’ News Agency (ISNA).

“They are afraid of any kind of war or possible conflict with Iran,” he said, also noting that US offers of talks without preconditions are false.

Trump said on Thursday that Iran was failing as a nation, under the pressure of his sanctions, and repeated his call for talks with the leadership in Tehran. Mousavi on Friday dismissed Trump’s comments as “repetitive, groundless and paradoxical” and said they did not merit a response.

Agencies