France, Germany to Increase Efforts to Reduce Iran Tensions, Avert War -Ministers

PARIS, June 19 (Reuters) – France and Germany will increase their efforts to reduce tensions over Iran, but time was running out and the risk of war could not be ruled out, their foreign ministers said on Wednesday.

“We want to unify our efforts so that there is a de-escalation process that starts,” French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian told reporters after a cabinet meeting in Paris.

“There is still time and we hope all the actors show more calm. There is still time, but only a little time,” he said.

Britain, France and Germany, known as the E3, plan a new push to keep Iran in the 2015 nuclear deal despite Tehran’s threat to violate one of its central limits, but they may be nearing the end of the diplomatic road they embarked on more than 15 years ago, diplomats told Reuters on Tuesday.

Germany Foreign Minister Heiko Maas, who attended the French cabinet meeting, echoed those comments adding that “the risk of war in the Persin Gulf has not been averted.”

“We need to do everything so that it doesn’t come to this. That’s why we are talking to all sides. I was in Iran and we are also talking with the Americans. We need to de-escalate through dialogue. It is a time of ‘diplomacy first’ and that’s what we are committed to.”

The E3 countries have strained to keep the accord between major powers and Iran on life support since U.S. President Donald Trump unilaterally withdrew from it last year and began re-imposing American sanctions.

Le Drian said Iran‘s threat on Monday to breach the 2015 nuclear deal’s limit on its uranium hexafluoride stocks within 10 days was very worrying and not in Tehran’s interest, but he also pointed the finger at the United States.

“We also consider the U.S.’ decision to break with the accord is not good and that its maximum pressure campaign is contributing to tensions,” he said.

(Reporting by John Irish, Michel Rose and Joseph Nasr in Berlin Editing by Geert De Clercq)