Lauding Iran's Regional Role, EU Seeks to Broaden Relations

Lauding Iran's Regional Role,  EU Seeks to Broaden RelationsLauding Iran's Regional Role,  EU Seeks to Broaden Relations

A senior EU lawmaker said the bloc hoped bilateral relations with Iran would expand further, hailing the effective role Tehran plays in enhancing stability in the region.

"The European Union is seriously interested in building up trade with Tehran. We will make efforts to ease restrictions impeding banking links as soon as possible," Janusz Lewandowski added.

A prominent member of the European Parliament and chairman of the EP delegation for relations with Iran, Lewandowski made the statement in a meeting with Majlis Speaker Ali Larijani in Tehran on Sunday, IRNA reported.

Economic engagement between Tehran and Brussels saw a sharp upward spike in the wake of the 2015 nuclear deal, which removed international sanctions on Iran in return for temporary curbs on its nuclear activity.

However, the remaining US sanctions are hampering closer trade, notably by prompting European banks to steer clear from the Iranian market over fears they may fall foul of vague US restrictions.

Besides, the deal faces strong opposition from US President Donald Trump who has hardened the Washington line on Tehran.

Lewandowski said members of the 28-nation bloc were in consensus over the need for supporting Iran's position regarding the deal.

"We carry good messages from the EU. Regardless of what Trump decides, the EU feels obliged to fulfill its commitments under the deal and will stand by Iran," he said.

Britain, France and Germany, the three European countries that joined their main ally the US, as well as Russia and China, to negotiate the deal, have opposed Trump's antagonistic stance toward the two-year accord, stressing the need for keeping the deal in place.

***Undeniable Impact

Pointing to the collapse of the self-styled Islamic State terrorist group in Iraq and Syria, the lawmaker described as undeniable the impact of Iran's relentless anti-terror efforts in bringing an end to the reign of IS in the region.

However, Lewandowski said Brussels are still wary of the spread of terror groups across the world, saying greater efforts are needed to fight terrorists and protect stability in the chaotic Middle East.

"The victory over the terror group is not the end ... The battle against terrorism must continue until the scourge is rooted out," he said.

The terror group had frequently shocked Europe in recent years by carrying out a spate of deadly terror attacks in several European cities.

Iran announced the end of the self-proclaimed "caliphate" established by the IS in 2014 last week, after the terror group was driven from its last urban strongholds in Abu Kamal and Rawa in Syria and Iraq respectively.

Larijani said it was up to the EU to take steps for removing obstacles to higher levels of trade, as there is great potential for closer economic cooperation between the two sides, particularly in the form of EU investments in Iran.

The top lawmaker said the EU could make investments in Iran in various sectors, particularly oil, gas, petrochemicals, renewable energy, railroads, mines and environment.

Larijani said the EU ought to do more to protect the deal from Trump who is constantly attempting to scare governments and firms away from engaging with Iran.

"Iran remains committed to the deal, but it is not acceptable that baseless accusations by the US and some of its regional allies hamper the [proper] implementation of this agreement," he said.

The top parliamentarian said Iran believed the resolution of regional conflicts and restoration of peace to the Middle East is possible only through dialogue and diplomacy.

Larijani said Iran will continue to do its best to fight terror groups wreaking havoc on the region, but the total elimination of terrorists requires a strong will among members of the international community.

"Unfortunately, some governments are sponsoring terrorists and arming them, while issuing statements that they condemn terrorism," he said.

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