Top EU diplomat, Josep Borrell, High Representative of 27 Member European Union, on Friday briefed US leaders on a trip to Iran aimed at easing tensions and discussed a US Middle East plan that he has denounced.
On his first trip to Washington since assuming his position in December, Borrell met Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and said afterward they discussed “everything.”
The State Department said in a statement the two talked about “prospects for peace in the Middle East, US-EU trade relations and holding Iran and Russia accountable for their destabilising actions.” Borrel had earlier visited Iran where he met top Iranian leadership.
Who is Josep Borrell?
Josep Borrell Fontelles is a respected Spanish politician, current High Representative of the European Union since 1 December 2019. He has been a life long member of the Spanish Socialist Workers’ Party (PSOE), since 1970’s, and has served as Minister of Foreign Affairs, European Union and Cooperation of the Government of Spain since 2018 until 2019.
He had returned to the Spanish Council of Ministers in June 2018, when he was appointed Minister of Foreign Affairs, the European Union and Cooperation in the Sánchez government.
In July 2019, Borrell was revealed as the European Council’s nominee to be appointed as High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy.
Borrell earlier in the week had visited Tehran where he met President Hassan Rouhani and voiced hope for an easing of tensions and preservation of a 2015 accord that sharply curtailed Iran’s nuclear program.
EU has still not officially backed out of the Iran Nuclear Deal of 2015, but the deal is practically dead for Iran after the United States under Trump reneged in 2018 and imposed harsher sanctions against Iran. While EU governments still pay lip service to the JCPOA (Iran Deal) almost all European Companies pulled out of Iran under fear of possible US sanctions.
Fears of all-out war soared last month when the United States killed Iran’s most powerful general, Qassem Soleimani, in a drone strike in Iraq.
Trump in 2018 walked out of the 2015 Nuclear deal (Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, JCPOA) negotiated under his predecessor Barack Obama and instead imposed sweeping sanctions on Iran, vowing to combat the clerical regime’s regional role.
EU: frustrated on US Middle East Plan
Borrell will also meet in Washington with Trump’s son-in-law and advisor Jared Kushner, the architect of a Middle East plan unveiled last week, and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, the top Democrat in Congress.
Read more: OIC rejects Trump’s Middle East peace plan
Borrell has criticized Trump’s long-awaited Middle East initiative, saying the Israelis and Palestinians should directly negotiate a two-state solution based on the lines before the 1967 Six-Day War.
The US plan “departs from these internationally agreed parameters,” Borrell said in a statement earlier this week.
Borrell said the European Union was “especially concerned” by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s push to annex much of the West Bank and the Jordan Valley.
The Trump plan was widely seen as giving a green light to annexation by saying that areas of Jewish settlements would become part of Israel, while also proposing a demilitarized Palestinian state.
Read more: In the Name of Peace: US-Israel Peace Plan
Borrell’s criticism came after the European Union was unable to issue a joint statement denouncing the Trump plan due to opposition from a handful of members, most vocally Hungary’s right-wing government.
The Palestinian leadership swiftly rejected the plan and has refused to deal with Trump, seeing him as biased after a series of major pro-Israel steps including recognizing contested Jerusalem as the Jewish state’s undivided capital.
AFP, with additional input from GVS News Desk