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Germany's Merkel calls for solutions to Iran's 'aggressive tendencies

Germany remained party to the Iran nuclear deal, which lifted sanctions on Tehran after US President Donald Trump withdrew from it in May.

FILE: German Chancellor Angela Merkel poses for a photograph after the recording of her annual New Year's speech at the Chancellery in Berlin on 30 December 2016. Picture: AFP.

AMMAN - German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Thursday said European countries shared concern over Iran’s ballistic missile program and called for solutions to its “aggressive tendencies” in the Middle East.

“Iran’s aggressive tendencies must not only be discussed but rather we need solutions urgently,” she said after meeting Jordan’s King Abdullah in Amman.

Germany remained party to the Iran nuclear deal, which lifted sanctions on Tehran in exchange for curbing its atomic programme after US President Donald Trump withdrew from it in May.

Merkel said on Thursday that while European countries wanted to maintain the 2015 accord, they shared concerns over Iran’s ballistic missile program, its presence in Syria and its role in the war in Yemen.

In Syria, Iran is a big military supporter of President Bashar al-Assad, sending some of its own forces there and backing Shi’ite militias from Lebanon and Iraq who are fighting on the ground. Gulf and Western countries accuse Tehran of arming the Houthi group in Yemen, which it denies.

She also voiced support for Jordanian concern about Iranian activity in southwestern Syria, near its border and that of the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights, where Tehran’s ally Damascus is ramping up a military operation.

“You live not just with the Syria conflict, but also we see Iran’s activities with regard to Israel’s security and with regard to Jordan’s border,” she said.

Merkel said earlier this month after meeting Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that the question of Iran’s regional influence was “worrying, especially for Israel’s security”.

Abdullah, who met Netanyahu on Monday and spoke by phone with Trump’s son-in-law and regional envoy Jared Kushner on Tuesday, said there could be no peace in the Middle East without a Palestinian state with Jerusalem as its capital.

The United States is preparing a new peace plan, which has not yet been made public but has already angered Palestinians by recognizing Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.

Abdullah this month appointed a new prime minister after the country’s biggest protests in years over taxes and price increases pushed by the International Monetary Fund.

Merkel said reforms should be balanced and “not hit the wrong people”.

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