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Putin invites Merkel to discuss Iran crisis

January 6, 2020

The German chancellor will travel to Russia to meet President Vladimir Putin this coming Saturday. The pair plan to discuss the Iran escalation as well as the conflicts in Ukraine, Libya and Syria.

Merkel and Putin
Image: Reuters/C. Platiau

Russian President Vladimir Putin has invited German Chancellor Angel Merkel to Russia this coming weekend to discuss the rising tensions in the Middle East, following the death of Iranian General Qassem Soleimani in a US airstrike.

The Kremlin has confirmed the meeting was set to take place on Saturday, but did not state where it would take place. German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas will also attend.

As a permanent member of the United Nations Security Council, Russia is "indispensable" when it comes to solving political conflicts, said German government spokesperson Steffen Seibert on Monday.

Germany and Russia are two of the world powers which have been trying to salvage the 2015 nuclear deal with Iran after US President Donald Trump withdrew from the agreement in 2018.

In addition to the Middle East crisis, the conflicts in Syria and Libya, where Turkey has just begun deploying troops, will also be on the agenda. Russia said it will support Germany's peace initiative in the region.

It is thought both leaders will also want to discuss the Ukraine situation, ongoing since the Russian annexation of Crimea in 2014.

Ignoring nuclear deal 'cannot be shrugged off'

With Iran announcing that it will no longer abide by the limits of the 2015 nuclear deal, Germany's Maas also urged on Monday for the European Union's foreign ministers to convene for a meeting in the next few days.

Tehran's move to ignore limitations on enriching uranium "cannot be simply shrugged off," Maas told public radio Deutschlandfunk.

That decision violates the terms of the 2015 nuclear deal, the JCPOA, which Iran, Germany, Russia, France, the UK, China and the European Union are still signed on to.

Iran's decision "could be the first step toward the end of this agreement, which would be a great loss," Maas said.

A special meeting with EU foreign ministers is reportedly set to take place on Friday, sources told news agency AFP.

German offers to mediate

Under the deal, Tehran agreed to limit its nuclear ambitions in exchange for economic incentives — but the accord was already damaged by Trump's withdrawal and subsequent re-imposition of sanctions.

Tensions in the Middle East have skyrocketed following the killing of Soleimani in a US airstrike in Baghdad on Friday. Germany has offered to mediate between all parties, but drew diplomatic ire from Tehran after German officials suggested the Iranian general's death may have been justified.

rs, kmm/cmk (dpa, Reuters, AFP, AP)

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