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French and German foreign ministers hold Iran talks in Israel

The Foreign Ministers of France and Germany held talks with Israeli leaders yesterday to discuss US President Donald Trump’s threat to withdraw from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) nuclear agreement with Iran.

Both German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas and his French counterpart Yves-Jean Le Drian have made clear that, although efforts are being made to constrain Iran’s ballistic missile programme, they are not seeking to change the agreement itself.

Last week Le Drian told reporters: “We are totally determined to make sure that the Vienna deal is respected… But at the same time, we can’t exclude the Iranian responsibility in the missile proliferation and the very questionable role of Iran in the whole Middle East region.”

However, Le Drian is reported to have told Netanyahu that he was disappointed with the inflexibility of the Iranian position after a recent visit to Tehran. Before the meeting, the Prime Minister said both countries needed to stand together against “terror- sponsoring regimes wherever they are,” in reference to Iran.

Israel’s Channel 10 news reported that Netanyahu told the visiting diplomats that the US will withdraw from the deal unless significant progress was made to deal with Iran’s ballistic missile programme, site inspections and the “sunset clause,” whereby Iran is free to build a nuclear weapon after the nuclear deal expires. President Trump has given the European signatories a deadline of 12 May to fix what he terms the “terrible flaws” of the deal.

Mass explained that Germany thinks having a deal is better than the alternative, Netanyahu replied: “The Munich agreement from 1938 was also a deal.”

The German Foreign Minister also met Palestinian Authority (PA) President Mahmoud Abbas and reassured him that Germany remained committed to the two-state solution. But Maas acknowledged that “any peace process without the United States would be difficult. This is why we hope that…no doors will be slammed shut,” he told a press conference.