European Union to invite Iran Foreign Minister for talks over protests

Sigmar Gabriel said Berlin will not follow the lead of US President Donald Trump, who pledged to help Iranians 'take back' their government. Photograph:( Reuters )

AFP Berlin, Germany Jan 08, 2018, 12.50 AM (IST)

The European Union will invite Iran's foreign minister for talks about the recent anti-government protests that have hit the country, Germany's Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel said Sunday.

"Together with the EU's foreign policy chief (Federica Mogherini), we agreed to invite the Iranian foreign minister, if possible next week," Gabriel told German public broadcaster ZDF, without giving further details. 

21 people have died and hundreds arrested since December 28 as protests over economic woes turned against the Iranian regime as a whole, with attacks on government buildings and police stations.

"We very quickly affirmed that we support the freedom to demonstrate and that the state should support this," Gabriel said.

At the same time, Gabriel said Berlin will not follow the lead of US President Donald Trump, who pledged to help Iranians "take back" their government.

Trump also seized on the recent unrest to again slam a multiparty nuclear deal with Iran as deeply flawed.

Germany, as well as France, has "warned against attempts at instrumentalising the domestic conflicts in Iran," said Gabriel.

The US on Friday took the Iran protests to the UN Security Council, where deep divisions emerged over the issue, with Russia arguing the demonstrations posed no threat to international peace and security.