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European ministers to hold emergency meeting on Haftar's Libya offensive and Iran tensions

Iran will be one of the key points of discussion [Getty]

Date of publication: 7 January, 2020

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The EU is concerned by developments in Libya and Iran which threaten to destabilise the region.
European ministers will meet for emergency talks on crises in Iran and Libya, as the EU attempts to deal with two major destabalising events on its doorstep.

Talks between the UK, France, Germany and Italy, plus the EU diplomatic chief, will address the US killing of a top Iranian commander, as well as Tehran's latest step back from the 2015 nuclear deal.

Also of concern the seizure of a key Libyan town, Sirte, from the government by forces loyal to militia leader Khalifa Haftar, as well as an offensive on the capital Tripoli.

Turkey has rushed troops into Libya to support the embattled Government of National Accord (GNA), while Haftar is supported by Egypt and the UAE.

The EU's chief condemned Turkish "interference" in Libya after Ankara sent troops to support the UN-backed Tripoli government, warning this complicates the crisis in the oil-rich state.

Josep Borrell said the Turkish intervention was "something that we reject and which increases our worries about the situation in Libya".

British foreign minister Dominic Raab will hold a one-on-one meeting with his French counterpart Jean-Yves Le Drian, who has warned Iran against retaliating over Soleimani's death.

Raab will then meet German and Italian ministers for talks on Libya.

"The foreign secretary is travelling to Brussels today for talks with his European counterparts on the situation in the Middle East following the death of Soleimani and on the escalating conflict in Libya," the British foreign ministry said.

"The E3 will then meet to discuss the tensions between the US and Iran with all three pushing for de-escalation," it added, referring to the UK, France and Germany as the three European signatories of the Iran nuclear deal.

"The talks will also cover the nuclear deal following Iran's latest announcement on Sunday that it is withdrawing from further commitments in the deal."

The Libya meeting is due to start around 2pm (1:30pm GMT), followed by the Iran talks.

Borrell warned Monday that more intense fighting could soon break out around Tripoli and called for a political solution to the crisis.

The new European Commission has vowed to take on a more "geopolitical" role but the EU often finds itself hamstrung on foreign policy by internal differences.

It took three days for President Ursula von der Leyen to issue a statement on Soleimani's killing. 

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