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EghtesadOnline: A visit by Germany's chief diplomat is potentially aimed at both reiterating Europe's will to salvage the fraying Iran nuclear deal and echoing Washington's warnings against Tehran, says a senior analyst.

"The fact that [German Foreign Minister] Heiko Maas decided to visit the UAE as well … shows that a more comprehensive plan has been defined for the Europeans," Mohsen Jalilvand also told the Iranian Diplomacy website in a recent interview.  

Maas is scheduled to hold talks with Iranian officials on Monday as part of a Middle East tour, which included stops in Jordan, Iraq and the UAE. 

He will travel to Tehran to explore options for preserving the 2015 nuclear agreement between Iran and world powers, whose fate has been in limbo since US President Donald Trump unilaterally abandoned it last year, a German Foreign Ministry spokeswoman was quoted as saying by Reuters on Thursday, according to Financial Tribune.

Maria Adebahr added that the trip had been agreed and coordinated with Britain and France, both of which support the accord, and had also been discussed with Mike Pompeo, the United States’ secretary of state.

Jalilvand said the visit aims to demonstrate that Europe is making efforts to secure Iran's economic interests under the deal by setting up a new channel for non-dollar trade that has been opened by Berlin, Paris and London. 

The Instrument in Support of Trade Exchanges, or INSTEX, is registered in France and will be headed by German banker Per Fischer, a former Commerzbank director. The vehicle is not yet up and running, but Europe hopes to have it functioning by this summer, AP reported.   

Pompeo, making his first visit to Germany as secretary of state, said in May the US does not take issue with the development of the special system so long as it deals with the trade of goods not subject to sanctions, as the Europeans contend it will. However, the US administration has repeatedly said Iran should be confronted. 

“The German minister's visit is also probably meant to echo Washington's threats against Tehran,” jalilvand said. 

The expert on international affairs also believes it is no accident that Maas decided to visit the UAE before traveling to Tehran, particularly in light of the recent incident near the UAE emirate of Fujairah.   

Last month, four vessels—two Saudi-flagged, a Norwegian-flagged and an Emirati-flagged—were damaged by explosions in UAE territorial waters, off the port of Fujairah.  

An inconclusive inquiry has blamed an unidentified state actor for the incident, according to the Guardian. Nonetheless, the US and Saudi Arabia have accused Iran of being behind the attacks, allegations that Tehran denies. 

Asked whether the visit is part of Germany's efforts to de-escalate tensions between Tehran and Washington, the analyst said, "It aims to manage the tense atmosphere. But the situation is not such that the Europeans would want to lose the United States in order to defuse tensions."

Washington's major European allies opposed the decision by Trump to abandon the Iran deal, under which international sanctions on the country were lifted in return for Tehran accepting curbs on its nuclear program. But many European firms have left the Iranian market, fearing they would run afoul of US sanctions.  

The US president has tightened economic sanctions against Iran and his administration says it has built up US military presence in the Persian Gulf. It accuses Iran of threats to American troops and interests without providing any evidence. 

Tehran has described US moves as "psychological warfare" and a "political game".

Jalilvand said the visit could be viewed as part of wider efforts by the international community to prevent the standoff between Iran and the US to spiral into an all-out global crisis, which could negatively affect all countries of the region and even those beyond. 


Iran Iran nuclear deal Heiko Maas German FM visit Visit to Iran visit to Tehran