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EU Aid Plan For Iran 'Big Mistake,' Says Netanyahu

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on an official visit to Lithuania on August 24.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has criticized an EU economic aid plan for Iran, warning that the bloc will come to regret it.

"I think giving money to this regime at this time is a big mistake and should be stopped," he said during an official visit to Lithuania on August 24, referring to a first 18-million-euro ($20.9 million) tranche that the European Union has earmarked for Iran as part of the 28-member bloc's commitment to keeping a landmark nuclear deal alive.

In May, U.S. President Donald Trump withdrew from the deal signed by world powers with Tehran, and began restoring U.S. sanctions. The move has been deepening a financial crisis in Iran that has sent its currency tumbling.

More U.S. sanctions are due in November, including measures to prevent Iran from selling oil.

The EU said the funds, part of the 2015 deal, was the first of a wider package of 50 million euros ($58 million) for Iran intended to help it "address key economic and social challenges."

But Netanyahu said the money would be used to advance Iran's military goals in the region.

"I think that the decision yesterday by the EU to give 18 million euros to Iran is a big mistake. It's like a poison pill to the Iranian people and to the efforts to curb Iranian aggression in the region and beyond the region," Netanyahu said.

"It is going to go to the missiles and the Revolutionary Guards in Iran, Syria and elsewhere in the Middle East."

Based on reporting by dpa, AP, and AFP