The Brief: US-Iran tensions- first test for 'geopolitical commission'

By Shona Murray, Jo Gill
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The EU scrambled to respond after tensions rose in the Middle East following the assassination of a top Iranian security official by a U.S. strike in Iraq.


An extraordinary meeting for an extraordinary situation. NATO ambassadors met in Brussels to assess the ongoing fallout of the latest tensions in the Middle East, three days after the assassination of a top Iranian security official by a U.S. strike in Iraq.

In an effort to display unity, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg warned Iran not to take any retaliatory measure.

"At the meeting today, allies called for restraint and de-escalation. A new conflict would be in no-one's interest. So Iran must refrain from further violence and provocations," Stoltenberg told reporters.

The assassination came as a first test for the self-labelled 'geopolitical Commission' of Ursula von der Leyen.

The newly-appointed Commission president Ursula von der Leyen told reporters in Germany that further tensions are in the interests of neither Iran, nor Iraq.

In an attempt to save the Iran nuclear deal, the EU's foreign policy chief Josep Borrell invited his Iranian counterpart to Brussels.

Taking to Twitter, Borrell said he regretted Tehran's latest announcement to essentially stop respecting the deal and promised to keep working with all participants involved to find a dilomatic solution.

In a phone conversation with Borrell Iran's foreign minister Javad Zarif left it open whether he would accept talks in Brussels with the EU leadership.

A EU Commission spokesman underlined the need for diplomatic engagement, hinting at Iran's agreement.

"Both of them in their conversation stressed that the JCPOA, the nuclear deal, is very important and they were very clear that the only way forward is to continue the engagement on all the political levels. I understand that there is interest on both side to continue the mutual engagement," Peter Stano, Commission spokesperson explained.

The crisis in the Middle East and the future of the Iran nuclear deal will be discussed at an EU foreign ministers meeting which Borrell scheduled for Friday.

Especially the German government had pushed for such an emergency meeting.

Whether European diplomacy can prevent Iran from resuming its nuclear program following the latest tension with the U.S. remains to be seen.

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