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Iran Says Disappointed After Visit Of British Official

British Minister of State for the Middle East Andrew Murrison meeting with Iran's Kamal Kharrazi, June 23, 2019

Iran sounded more frustrated than before about Europe's cooperation following top-level meetings with the visiting British Minister of State for the Middle East Andrew Murrison on Sunday, June 23.

Murrison's first meeting in Tehran raised eyebrows as he rushed to meet with Kamal Kharrazi, the head of the Strategic Council of Foreign Relations, a body operating under the office of Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, although the venue of the meeting was the Foreign Ministry.

However, the result must have been disappointing for the Iranian side, as Kharrazi said at the end of the meeting that Murrison "had the usual talking points," including discussions about a European payment mechanism to help Iran conduct its international trade and collect its oil revenues regardless of U.S. sanctions.

Kharrazi said the talks with Murrison were "repetitive" as Europeans have discussed the mechanism several times during meetings in Iran and Europe while the scheme, called INSTEX, is still far from becoming operational any time soon.

Iranian official news agency IRNA quoted Kharrazi as having said after the meeting that "at the end of the 60-day moratorium to the three European Union countries Iran will take serious strides”, adding that “Iranian officials are serious in their decisions."

He was talking about Iran vowing earlier to suspend some of its voluntary practices under the nuclear agreement, the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA).

He said the three European countries, France, Germany and the UK "did not take serious actions" to save the JCPOA, "so Iran will stop some of its commitments related to the agreement."

In response to IRNA's question on Europe's commitments under the JCPOA and the future of the deal, Kharrazi said, "We are waiting to see what measure Europe will take within two weeks."

Meanwhile Murrison told ISNA that "the Instrument in Support of Trade Exchanges (INSTEX) will be implemented soon and London will support the Iran deal," adding that "Iran has its problems with the U.S."

The United States left the multilateral nuclear agreement with Iran last May and imposed heavy sanctions on Iran, particularly targeting its oil exports and international banking, the two areas Europe has helped to help Iran with.

Although Murrison was expected to meet deputy foreign minister Abbas Araqchi later on Sunday, he went to meet with the deputy chairman of the Iranian Atomic Energy Organization Behrouz Kamalvandi, who recently announced the suspension of more obligations by Iran under the JCPOA at the end of the moratorium.

At the meeting Kamalvandi criticized Europe for failing to stand by its promise about the payment mechanism ad repeated the ultimatum about further suspension of Iran's obligations, IRNA reported. Europe had rejected the ultimatum when it was first made in May, but promised to help Iran.

The United Kingdom's Foreign and Commonwealth Office said in a statement released before Murrison's visit that he was to call for an "urgent de-escalation" and raise British concerns "about Iran's regional conduct and its threat to cease complying with the nuclear deal."

Meanwhile. President Hassan Rouhani told the visiting President of the International Parliamentary Union, Gabriela Cuevas Barron that all the complications in the region are due to the "interventionist" U.S. military presence. Rouhani raised the issue of the U.S. drone shot down by Iranian forces on June 20, alleging that it had violated Iran's territory and asked the world to condemn the United States.

Tensions between Iran and the United states reached a dangerous peak last week as Iran downed a U.S. drone over the Persian Gulf June 20, claiming that the unmanned aircraft had violated its air space, while the United States insists the UAV was flying in international airspace.

Although some sort of U.S. retaliation was anticipated, President Donald Trump called off a military strike on targets in Iran within minutes before the attack was launched.