US point person for Iran to visit Middle East allies

  • 03:10 20 June 2019

US point person for Iran to visit Middle East allies

The State Department's top official for Iran will travel to the Middle East this week to meet with key allies, the agency said.

Brian Hook, the U.S. special representative for Tehran, will depart Washington for the region Wednesday to hold meetings with officials in Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Oman and Bahrain.

"Hook will discuss Iran’s regional aggression, including its recent attacks on two oil tankers in the Gulf of Oman," the agency said, referring to recent attacks the U.S. blamed on Tehran, which denies the allegations.

The State Department said Hook will share additional intelligence the U.S. has "on the range of active threats Iran currently poses to the region."

"The United States is committed to working with our partners in the region to safeguard freedom of navigation and deter Iranian threats to international trade and shipping," it added.

Hook will depart the Middle East for Europe on June 27 where he will meet in Paris with his British, French and German counterparts "to discuss a range of issues concerning the Iranian regime."

Tensions have been at a fever pitch between Washington and Tehran since U.S. President Donald Trump decided in May 2018 to unilaterally withdraw the U.S. from an internationally-brokered agreement meant to rein in Iran's nuclear program.

The agreement's other signatories -- including the British, French and Germans -- counseled Trump against the action, but he ignored warnings that withdrawing would increase the prospects for conflict with Iran.

All of the other parties to the agreement have stayed within the agreement's parameters despite the Trump administration's efforts to torpedo it, including reimposing sanctions on the export of Iranian crude oil that were lifted as part of the deal.

The administration also opened the door to sanctioning the transfer of enriched uranium out of Iran, a key component of the 2015 agreement wherein Iran received natural uranium to power its nuclear plants in exchange for shipping out enriched uranium.

Iran warned Monday it now stands to violate as soon as next week limits of enriched uranium it accepted as part of the agreement.