Von der Leyen issued an appeal for the U.S. and Iran for end to Middle East violence

European Commission President Ursula Von Der Leyen (L) and High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Josep Borrell give a press conference at the end of the weekly college meeting of the European Commission in Brussels, Belgium, 08 January 2020. The Commission met to discuss the outreach to different stakeholders related to developments in Iraq at a time of severe tensions in the region. EPA-EFE/STEPHANIE LECOCQ

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“The use of weapons must stop now to give space for dialogue,” the European Commission president said in a brief statement following a special meeting of her College of Commissioners about the crisis in the Middle East. She appeared with Josep Borrell, the EU’s foreign policy chief.

But even as they criticized the escalation in violence, von der Leyen, a former German defense minister, and Borrell, a former Spanish foreign minister, pointedly did not explicitly condemn the Iranian government or express solidarity and support with the United States, the EU’s longtime ally, following an overnight Iranian missile strikes on two military bases in Iraq used by U.S. forces.

Instead, Borrell warned that the continuing violence had put at risk efforts by Western allies to rebuild Iraq and fight the Islamic State, also known as Daesh. Calling the situation “extremely worrying,” Borrell said: “One thing is clear: the current situation puts at risk the efforts of the last years and also has implications for the important work of the anti-Daesh coalition.”

The Commission met early Wednesday as officials were still struggling to fully assess the result of the latest news from the Middle East, including the Iranian missile strikes and the pre-dawn crash of a Ukrainian airliner near Tehran.

Read more via Politico

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