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The Secretary General of the European External Action Service (EEAS), Helga Schmid, travelled to the United Arab Emirates, Oman, Qatar and Iran between 12 and 15 June 2019. In light of the recent developments, including the attacks against oil tankers in the Sea of Oman, she stressed the call of the European Union to defuse regional tensions, find ways towards de-escalation and promote dialogue.
In the United Arab Emirates, Secretary General met with the Emirati Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, Dr. Anwar Gargash, and the President of the Federal National Council, Amal Al Qubaisi; in Oman with the Under-Secretary of the Ministry for Foreign Affairs, Mohammed Hassan; in Qatar with Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs, Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al-Thani and the advisor for National Security to the Emir of Qatar, Mohammed Bin Ahmed al Misnad; in Iran with the Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs, Seyed Abbas Aragchi.
On the conclusion of the regional tour, EEAS Secretary General said: “In view of rising tensions, it is essential to show restraint and avoid any further escalation. The risk of miscalculation remains high, especially in the absence of dialogue. Listening to the concerns of all the stakeholders involved and finding ways to de-escalate are in the interest of everyone. The EU would like to see a region where contentious issues are addressed through dialogue and diplomatic engagement. We believe we all stand to benefit from avoiding confrontation and fostering cooperation".
Secretary General Schmid also used this opportunity to reiterate the EU's continued commitment to the JCPOA (Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, Iran nuclear deal), which is key to increasing stability and security in the Middle East and a crucial element of the global nuclear non-proliferation regime. JCPOA has been working and delivering on its primary goal which is to ensure that Iran does not acquire material or equipment to develop a nuclear weapon. The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) confirmed in 15 reports that Iran abided by its nuclear related commitments. In particular, Secretary General discussed in Iran current EU efforts, together with other European partners, to enable the continuation of legitimate trade with Iran, including through the operationalisation of the special purpose vehicle "INSTEX".
During her visit, the EEAS Secretary General also touched upon bilateral relations, discussing ways towards the implementation of the Cooperation Arrangement signed between the EEAS and the UAE, Oman and Qatar, as well as exchanged views on regional issues of common concern, such as the conflicts in Yemen and Syria, the Middle East Peace Process, and the situation in Afghanistan, Libya and in Sudan, stressing the EU's sustained interest in dialogue and engagement with the Gulf countries.
On Yemen, Helga Schmid reiterated the EU's determination to support the efforts of the UN Special Envoy Martin Griffiths and the need to see rapid progress in implementing withdrawals as per the Stockholm Agreement.
High Representative/Vice-President Federica Mogherini will discuss the latest developments in the region with the EU Foreign Ministers at the upcoming Foreign Affairs Council in Luxembourg on 17 June.