Europe seeks to defuse Iran crisis as Trump says military option still on

Britain and France have sent envoys to Teheran for talks to diffuse tensions following US President Donald Trump's aborted military strike against Iran.
Britain and France have sent envoys to Teheran for talks to diffuse tensions following US President Donald Trump's aborted military strike against Iran.PHOTO: AFP

LONDON (NYTIMES) - Scrambling to extend a reprieve in the Iran crisis on Saturday (June 22) after United States President Donald Trump's aborted military strike, Britain, France and other European countries reached out to the Iranians for dialogue and urged restraint on all sides.

Britain's Foreign Office said it had dispatched its Minister of State for the Middle East, Mr Andrew Murrison, for talks in Teheran. The French government said it had dispatched envoy Emmanuel Bonne to Iran.

And the office of the European Union's top foreign policy official, Ms Federica Mogherini, emphasised what it called the need for "exclusively diplomatic routes" to address tensions.

Mr Trump, who ordered then scrubbed armed retaliation against the Iranians last Thursday for having downed an American spy drone, told reporters at the White House on Saturday that military action was still possible.

But he suggested economic pressure was his preferred alternative to a threat of war between Iran and the US over what his administration has described as Iran's increasingly nefarious activities in the Middle East.

The crisis has been slowly building since May 2018 when Mr Trump abandoned the 2015 nuclear agreement, negotiated by former president Barack Obama's administration. The deal relaxed some economic sanctions on Iran in return for its verifiable commitments of peaceful nuclear work.

Although Iran has honoured the accord, Mr Trump has asserted that it is temporary and too weak. He has reimposed old sanctions and added new ones, including steps to choke all exports of Iranian oil, the country's main revenue source.

 

Iran's leaders, who have publicly and repeatedly rejected any discussions with the Trump administration, have shown no softening in their position.

Punctuating their defiance, Iran state-run media said on Saturday that the authorities had executed an Iranian defence contractor on charges of spying for the CIA.

Iran also protested to the United Arab Emirates on Saturday for having permitted US forces to launch the drone from that country.