Top EU diplomat discusses Iran visit, Israel-Palestine ‘peace’ plan with US

Top EU diplomat discusses Iran visit, Israel-Palestine ‘peace’ plan with US
The High Representative of the European Union, Josep Borrell, visited the US on Friday to discuss his recent trip to Iran and Trump’s much-condemned plan for Israel-Palestine peace
2 min read
08 February, 2020
Josep Borrell (left) met with Mike Pompeo [Getty]

Top EU diplomat Josep Borrell on Friday briefed US leaders on a trip to Iran aimed at easing tensions and discussed a US Middle East plan that he has denounced.

On his first trip to Washington since assuming his position in December, Borrell met Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and said afterward they discussed "everything."

The State Department said in a statement the two talked about "prospects for peace in the Middle East, US-EU trade relations and holding Iran and Russia accountable for their destabilizing actions."

Borrell earlier in the week visited Tehran where he met President Hassan Rouhani and voiced hope for an easing of tensions and preservation of a 2015 accord that sharply curtailed Iran's nuclear program.

Fears of all-out war soared last month when the United States killed Iran's most powerful general, Qassem Soleimani, in a drone strike in Iraq.

Trump in 2018 walked out of the nuclear deal negotiated under his predecessor Barack Obama and instead imposed sweeping sanctions on Iran, vowing to combat the clerical regime's regional role.

Borrell will also meet in Washington with Trump's son-in-law and advisor Jared Kushner, the architect of a Middle East plan unveiled last week, and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, the top Democrat in Congress.

Borrell has criticized Trump's Middle East initiative, saying the Israelis and Palestinians should directly negotiate a two-state solution based on the borders that existed before the 1967 Arab-Israeli war.

Read more: The five most outrageous proposals in Trump's bizarre 'Deal of the Century'

The US plan "departs from these internationally agreed parameters," Borrell said in a statement earlier this week.

Borrell said the European Union was "especially concerned" by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's push to annex much of the West Bank and the Jordan Valley.

The Trump plan gave a green light to annexation by saying that the Jordan Valley and illegal Israeli settlements in the West Bank would become part of Israel, while proposing a Palestinian state with limited sovereignty in only 16% of historic Palestine.

Borrell's criticism came after the European Union was unable to issue a joint statement denouncing the Trump plan due to opposition from a handful of members, most vocally Hungary's right-wing government, which has been supportive of Netanyahu.

The Palestinian leadership swiftly rejected the plan and has refused to deal with Trump, seeing him as biased after a series of major pro-Israel steps including recognizing Israeli sovereignty over Palestinian East Jerusalem.

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