German FM Due in Iran Monday

German Foreign minister Heiko Maas gives a joint press conference with President of Commission Jean Claude Juncker (unseen) after their bilateral meeting on April 13, 2018 at the EU headquarters in Brussels. / Photo by AFP

Iranian Foreign Ministry Spokesman Seyyed Abbas Mousavi has confirmed that German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas will visit Tehran on Monday at the head of a high-ranking delegation.

“During his one-day visit, the German top diplomat will hold talks with Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif and President Hassan Rouhani,” Mousavi said on Thursday.

“Bilateral relations between Iran and Germany, the most important regional and international issues, and the latest developments regarding the JCPOA (Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action) will be discussed in this trip,” he added.

Earlier, a German foreign ministry spokeswoman had declared that Maas will visit Iran as part of a three-country Middle East tour, during which he will explore options for preserving the Iran nuclear deal.

The trip, timed to coincide with the end of the Muslim festival of Ramadan, will take in Jordan, the United Arab Emirates as well as Tehran, ministry spokeswoman Maria Adebahr told a regular news conference on Thursday.

She added that the trip had been agreed and coordinated with Britain and France, both of which support the nuclear deal signed with Iran, and had also been discussed with Mike Pompeo, chief diplomat of the United States, which has repudiated the agreement.

During the visit, Maas will also be accompanied by Per Fischer, the German head of The Instrument in Support of Trade Exchanges (INSTEX), a special purpose vehicle established by the European Union to circumvent US sanctions and keep some semblance of business channels open to Iran.

Initiated with much fanfare, the special purpose vehicle has been relegated by the Europeans to handle food and medical trade which is theoretically not subject to US sanctions.

Germany, France, and the UK, however, have been struggling to operationalize it, raising serious doubts about their determination to compensate for last year’s unilateral US pullout from an international 2015 nuclear deal Iran.

Back on May 8, Iran stopped some commitments under the deal and notified the remaining signatories of the accord that unless they protect its economy from US sanctions within 60 days, Tehran will start enriching uranium at higher levels.

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