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EU must play role against US unilateralism: Rouhani to European Council chief

Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani

Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani says as an important international actor, the European Union must play a suitable role in counteracting the US’ unilateral policies and protect the landmark nuclear deal with Iran as a major fruit of multilateral diplomacy.

Rouhani made the remarks in a Thursday phone call with Charles Michel, president of the European Council, during which he highlighted the important role of the Council in setting the direction of the European Union’s major policies and delineating its priorities.

“As an important actor in the international arena, the European Union must play a suitable role to counteract the US unilateralism,” Iran’s president said.

In 2018, the US left the nuclear agreement that had come by in Vienna three years earlier after some two years of negotiations that had been coordinated by the EU foreign policy chief of the time, Federica Mogherini. Washington then returned the draconian economic sanctions that the deal had lifted.

The United States violations came in sheer disregard for the multi-party nature of the agreement that, apart from Iran, also features the UK, France, Russia, and China plus Germany. Taking the measures, the US also ignored the fact that the deal has been ratified by the United Nations Security Council as one of its resolutions.

Washington then successfully pressured its allies in the pact -- the UK, France, and Germany -- into abiding by the economic bans and stopping their trade with Tehran.

Rouhani reiterated that as such an important achievement for globally-inclusive diplomacy, the deal -- officially known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) -- should not be allowed to come apart easily.

He advised that Mogherini’s successor Josep Borrell continue serving the duty of coordinator by devising the steps that could salvage the deal.

Michel, for his part, laid emphasis likewise on the need to save the nuclear deal and ensure its complete implementation on the part of all the signatories. He reiterated Europe’s sustained support for the accord in the aftermath of the US’ self-willed withdrawal.

Trump’s successor Joe Biden has voiced an alleged willingness to return the US to the deal. His administration has, however, so far stopped short of any effort that could mirror the expression of interest.

Iran argues that it considers sanction relief to be its only yardstick that would prompt the country to reverse the nuclear countermeasures it has taken in return for the US and its allies’ violations of the JCPOA.

The European official said given the change in the United States’ ruling structure, an “opportunity has been created” that should be used towards conserving the JCPOA and enabling its full implementation. The EU, he added, would play its due role in the area.

Iran ready for anti-terror cooperation with EU

The Iranian chief executive, meanwhile, expressed readiness on the part of Tehran for cooperation with the bloc to confront terrorism and extremism as two significant regional and international predicaments.

He voiced concern regarding reports and incidents that have pointed to resurgent Daesh activity in the region after the US assassination of senior Iranian anti-terror commander, Lieutenant General Qassem Soleimani in Iraq last year. General Soleimani used to direct Iran’s military advisory assistance for Baghdad against the Takfiri terrorist group that the Arab country defeated in late 2017.

Rouhani cited foreign military intervention as another source of tension in the region, urging all regional countries to take action to contribute to security, peace, and stability in this part of the world.

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