Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif says Europe is “underestimating” its power to bring stability to the Middle East, urging the continent to play a more active role in efforts to restore peace to the troubled region.
In an interview with Euronews on Tuesday, the top Iranian diplomat said the Europeans are selling themselves short when it comes to the issue of peace in the Middle East.
“I believe generally Europe is underestimating its power and its influence, we believe that it should be more active in regional peace and security, in international peace and security as well as in promoting a greater cooperation and dialogue,” Zarif said.
‘Iran wants Europe to act’
Elsewhere in the interview, the Iranian foreign minister made an apparent reference to the ongoing efforts by Tehran and its European partners to keep the 2015 nuclear deal in place despite the unilateral withdrawal of the US.
“What we need from the Europeans is both the political commitment, which they have made, now we need to see the measures in place on the ground, not simply in writing, not simply in words — in the banking sector, in the investment sector, in the energy sector, in the transportation sector, in the SME (small and medium-sized enterprise) sector,” he said.
France says Europe is unlikely to put together an economic package for Iran before November as Tehran urges “verifiable and actionable commitments.”
Trump announced in May Washington’s withdrawal from the nuclear accord, officially known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) and signed between Iran and the six world powers in 2015.
Washington also said it would re-impose the nuclear sanctions against Iran, which had been lifted under the JCPOA.
Tehran, however, has conditioned its stay in the deal to a set of practical European strides to make sure Iran’s dividends from the deal would not be affected when US sanctions return.
The EU has expressed its determination to stay committed to the JCPOA and maintain their business links with the Islamic Republic despite the return of Washington’s restriction.
The Europeans are now working to finalize a package of measures meant to satisfy Tehran and keep it in the JCPOA.
On fighting terror in Syria
Zarif further touched on the crisis in Syria and highlighted Tehran’s close cooperation with Russia and the Damascus government in the counter-terrorism battles underway in the Middle Eastern country.
“We have good communication and coordination with Russia and with Syrian government and we will continue to do so. Our objective here is very clear, that is our objectives and the objective of the Russian Federation and that is to fight against terrorism and extremism,” Zarif said.
The minister, however, censured the US’s negative role in the Syria crisis, adding that Washington, unlike Tehran and Moscow, has been sponsoring Daesh and other terrorist groups in Syria, but tries to take credit for the anti-terror fight in the Arab country.
“Now if [US] President [Donald] Trump wants to take credit for it, he should take credit for supporting Daesh which has been what the US and its allies have been doing all along. The fact that US arms, US weapons have been found in the hands of ISIS (Daesh) and other extremist organizations is documented, is documented by western sources,” Zarif stressed.