Published Jul 05, 2018 10:06am

Rouhani in Vienna to shore up nuclear deal, dogged by diplomat’s arrest

Agencies
VIENNA: Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz listens to Iranian President Hassan Rouhani during their joint press conference following a meeting on Wednesday.—AFP

VIENNA: Iranian President Hassan Rouhani on Wednes­day was on the second leg of his European tour seeking assurances over the 2015 nuclear deal, a trip clouded by the arrest of a Tehran diplomat over an alleged bomb plot against opposition exiles in Paris. Hoping to boost economic cooperation to help offset the return of US sanctions following Washington’s pullout from the historic deal, Rouhani arrived late Tuesday in Vienna — the city where it was signed.

“Insofar as it is possible for Iran, we shall remain party to the accord, we shall not quit the JCPOA [the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action] on condition that we can also benefit from it,” Rouhani said.

US President Donald Trump unilaterally pulled out of the agreement nearly two months ago, to the ire of the other signatories — China, France, Germany, Britain and Russia — which along with the EU have continued to back the accord.

“We need a balance between our duties and the hypothesis of restrictions [...] we hope for decisive actions regarding trade and the economy,” added Rouhani in comments sending a message to the other deal signatories.

Diplomat case

Austria’s chancellor on Wednesday asked visiting Iranian President Hassan Rouhani for “full clarification” of the case of a Vienna-based Iranian diplomat suspected of involvement in a plot to bomb an Iranian opposition rally in Europe.

A day earlier, Austrian officials announced that they plan to revoke the legal immunity of Vienna-based diplomat Assadollah Assadi. Assadi was detained on Sunday near the German city of Aschaffenburg on a European arrest warrant after a couple with Iranian roots was stopped in Belgium and authorities reported finding powerful explosives in their car. The website of the Austrian Foreign Ministry lists Assadi as a counselor at the Iranian Embassy.

Belgian authorities accuse Assadi of being part of a plot to set off explosives at a huge annual rally of the Mujahedeen-e-Khalq group in France, and want him extradited.

Chancellor Sebastian Kurz said he discussed the issue with Rouhani during their long-scheduled meeting on Wednesday. “We expect full clarification and I would like to thank you, Mr President, that you have assured us of support for this clarification,” said Kurz, speaking alongside Rouhani.

Published in Dawn, July 5th, 2018

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