'Maximum restraint': Europe allies reject U.S. escalation with Iran

'Maximum restraint': Europe allies reject U.S. escalation with Iran

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is heading to Russian Federation with an unusual and thankless task - standing firm against the rival power even as his boss, President Donald Trump, reaches out to reconcile.

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo arrived in Brussels on Monday to discuss the Iran nuclear deal, as Britain issued a stark warning about the risk of conflict erupting "by accident" in the Gulf.

"An aircraft carrier that has at least 40 to 50 planes on it and 6,000 forces gathered within it was a serious threat for us in the past but now it is a target and the threats have switched to opportunities", said Amirali Hajizadeh, the head of the IRG's aerospace division, according to Iranian media.

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani warned last week Tehran could resume enrichment of nuclear fuel at a higher grade if the European powers, China and Russian Federation did not do more to circumvent punitive US measures on banking and energy to boost trade.

"We are very anxious about the risk of a conflict happening by accident with an escalation that is unintended", said Hunt, adding it was important not to push Tehran back towards re-nuclearization.

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo held talks with his counterparts on the sidelines of the summit. President Donald Trump withdrew the United States from the deal in May 2018.

Pompeo, who departed from Joint Base Andrews near Washington en route for Brussels, will hold talks with European officials on Iran and other issues on Monday before heading to Russian Federation, the official added, speaking on condition of anonymity.

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President Donald Trump is seeking to isolate Tehran by cutting off its oil exports after pulling out of a 2015 deal aimed at curbing Iran's nuclear program.

Over the past month, the U.S. has taken an increasingly aggressive position against Iran.

Pompeo intends to meet the High Representative for Foreign Affairs and International Security of the European Union, Federica Mogherini, on Monday, although the EU bloc has expressed certain astonishment at the unexpected visit.

There he was due to meet Russian President Vladimir Putin and Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov to discuss several issues: The challenges in the relationship between the two countries, arms control policies and the situation in Ukraine, Venezuela, Iran, Syria and North Korea.

The Europeans have set up a complicated barter-type system to skirt direct financial transactions with Iran and so evade possible USA sanctions.

Tensions have been brewing between the USA and Iran, two nuclear-armed nations, with the Americans accusing the Middle Eastern power of preparing "imminent attacks to US interests in the region".

"I think this is Moscow testing whether there is a new modus operandi in Washington, (after) the release of the Mueller report", said Katz, now a senior fellow at The German Marshall Fund of the United States.

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