04:56 GMT +319 January 2020
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    BRUSSELS (Sputnik) - The European Union considers a diplomatic dialogue with Iran as a priority step in securing freedom of navigation in the Strait of Hormuz to avoid any further escalation in the region and to implement the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), known as the Iran nuclear deal, Belgian Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs Didier Reynders said.

    "We are very concerned about issues of maritime security and freedom of navigation, which should be ensured, but, as you know, we are trying to support the implementation of the JCPOA, so we are trying to avoid any escalation in the region. We will continue to look at how to guarantee freedom of navigation in the region, but also continue to work with Iran for the correct implementation of the nuclear deal", the minister told reporters on the sidelines of the informal meeting of EU foreign ministers, known as Gymnich, in Helsinki.

    While answering the question about the possibility of establishing the EU observation mission in the region, Reynders noted that the "diplomatic discussion with Iran is currently the most important element".

    Frederica Mogherini, the EU high representative for foreign affairs and security policy, said on Thursday that the European Union was discussing the concept of "coordinated maritime presence" in certain areas of strategic interest to the bloc.

    The Iran nuclear deal has been jeopardised by US President Donald Trump’s decision to withdraw from it last May. The United States also reimposed sanctions on Iran, which then retaliated by scrapping some of its commitments under the agreement that envisages preserving the peaceful nature of Iran’s nuclear programme.

    Tensions around Iran were further exacerbated earlier this summer when several tankers were attacked in the Persian Gulf area, prompting the increase of the United States' military presence there. Moreover, an Iranian tanker was arrested off Gibraltar but was subsequently released. Meanwhile, Tehran seised a Swedish UK-flagged tanker off its coast.

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    Tags:
    Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), dialogue, Iran, Strait of Hormuz, European Union (EU)
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