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Croatia's foreign minister says NATO is necessary

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By Reuters

By Foo Yun Chee

BRUSSELS (Reuters) – Croatian Foreign Minister Grlic Radman defended NATO on Monday following criticism of the 70-year-old alliance from the United States and France.

French President Emmanuel Macron said last week that NATO was dying, comments German chancellor Angela Merkel rejected as drastic, and U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo urged the alliance to change or risk becoming obsolete.

“I really believe in the future of NATO. There is also values like European Union, there’s this framework to protect our values, peace, stability, I think so we need NATO,” Radman told reporters ahead of a two-day meeting of EU foreign ministers in Brussels.

European Commissioner for European Neighbourhood Policy Johannes Hahn also voiced support for the alliance, founded in 1949 to provide collective security against the Soviet Union.

“I think it is good that we have NATO, that it continues to develop and that it shows vital signs,” he told reporters.

Separately, German Foreign Minister German Heiko Maas urged Iran to stick to its 2015 nuclear deal with world powers that curbed its disputed nuclear work after it resumed uranium enrichment at its underground Fordow nuclear plant last week.

“We want to maintain the JCPOA (the 2015 nuclear deal) but Iran has to finally return to its commitments and respect them,” Maas told reporters.

Dutch Foreign Minister Stef Blok also voiced concerns.

“We are very worried about Iran’s behaviour, we will discuss with the E3 (France, Germany and the United Kingdom) what our common position will be. The Iranian stand is indeed very worrying,” he told reporters.

EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini said EU foreign ministers will discuss Iran’s decision last week to hold an International Atomic Energy Agency inspector in what appears to be the first incident of its kind.

(The story corrects Turkish foreign minister to Croatian foreign minister in headline, first and third paragraphs)

(Reporting by Foo Yun Chee, editing by Ed Osmond)