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Europe Trying To Maintain Balance Between The US And Iran

File photo - EU diplomatic chief Federica Mogherini speaks during a debate on the EU’s response to US decision to quit the Iran nuclear deal at the European Parliament on June 12, 2018 in Strasbourg, eastern France.

While Iran is utterly unhappy about the delay in Europe's initiative to help Iran manage its international banking via a special mechanism, Europeans officials insist that they are still hoping to make the system operational soon.

Iranian officials expressed their disappointment with Europe's promise most recently in meetings with the visiting British Minister of State for the Middle East Andrew Murrison on Sunday, June 23.

Iran's Deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Araqchi called Murrison a novice while criticizing UK, France and Germany for failing to make operational the financial mechanism that was meant to facilitate oil export and international banking for Iran regardless of US sanctions.

Other Iranian officials also criticized Europe for its inaction during meetings with the visiting UK official on Sunday.

While Murrison was in Tehran, British Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt told the Daily Mail newspaper "we will stand by the United States as our strongest ally but of course we have to consider any requests for military support on a case-by-case basis." He said that "we want to de-escalate the situation but we are of course extremely worried."

Kamal Kharazi, head of the Strategic Council of Foreign Relations, a body operating under the office of Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, told Murrison on Sunday that Iranians have a historic suspicion about Britain's good will.

In the meantime, Europe and the United States appear to be more divided than ever over their Iran policies. Murrison's visit to Tehran was an elaborate sign of this difference in approach.

The United States doesn't hide its disagreement with Europe's declared intention to help Iran cope with the consequences of the U.S. pull-out from the nuclear deal and the ensuing sanctions against Tehran.

Europeans, on the other hand, cautiously criticize the United States' unilateral measures over Iran.

During the past week, while tensions in the Persian Gulf region reached their peak as Iran downed a U.S. drone over the Gulf, Europeans kept insisting on the idea of the financial mechanism to help Iran while expressing serious concern about the escalation of tensions in the region.

While three U.S. officials, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, National Security Adviser John Bolton and the United States' senior Iran diplomat Brian Hook are visiting Middle east countries to garner an all-out global coalition against Iran, Europe has not welcomed the measure.

German Foreign Ministry spokesman Christofer Burger says "our top aim is and remains to be a de-escalation of the serious situation," while also noting that representatives of the three European countries, Germany, UK and France have recently been in Tehran to assure Iranians of Europe's support for Tehran.

Germany's foreign minister, Heiko Maas told ZDF television on Sunday that the United States' maximum pressure strategy " is having an economic effect, but it is also having an effect in other ways, and we see that in what is going on in the Middle East: the danger of war is rising."

The EU trio remain in the nuclear deal with Iran along with less vocal China and Russia regardless of the US withdrawal from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA).

Germany argues that the nuclear deal with Tehran ensures that Tehran will not produce nuclear weapon and keeps the lines of communication with Tehran open to address concerns about its regional ambitions.

Heiko Mass added in the interview with ZDF, "this is the time for diplomacy," a point also observed by Maja Kocijancic, the spokeswoman for European Union foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini who said "exclusively diplomatic routes are needed to resolve differences."

Kocijancic added that "the latest developments underline the urgent need for restraint, opening channels of dialogue and for immediate de-escalation."

While this dialogue is going on, Iran is losing patience under hard-hitting sanctions ahead of a JCPOA meeting in Vienna on Friday. Last week, Tehran threatened that it will exceed the uranium stockpile limit set by the agreement this week and President Hassan Rouhani has said the Islamic Republic likely will resume higher uranium enrichment.

In response the Iranian threats, the French foreign ministry urged Iran on Friday to "continue to implement all of its obligations" and German Chancellor Angela Merkel maintained that if Tehran doesn't abide by the accord, "that will of course have consequences."

Echoing international concerns over the rising tensions between Iran and the United States, German media likened Pompeo's idea of forming a global coalition against Iran to President George W. Bush's "coalition of the willing" against Iraq in 2003. However, the German Foreign Ministry Spokesman warned that "one should be very cautious with such historical parallels."