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Dems Join Israel in Slamming EU for Planned Delegation to Iran

Senate Democrats on Wednesday strongly urged their European Union counterparts to cancel a planned trip to Iran.
By Rachel Hirshfeld
First Publish: 10/18/2012, 9:34 AM

The European flag flies in front of the European Parliament in Strasbourg
The European flag flies in front of the European Parliament in Strasbourg
Reuters

Senate Democrats on Wednesday strongly urged their European Union counterparts to cancel a planned trip to Iran, saying it would send “the wrong message at this particularly sensitive time.”

“As you know, we strongly support increased ties between the United States Senate and the European Parliament, and we believe it is critical that we work together to present a strong, united front in our efforts regarding Iran at this critical juncture,” Sens. Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.) and Ben Cardin (D-Md.) wrote in a letter to European Parliament President Martin Schulz. “With these concerns in mind, we respectfully ask that the delegation reconsiders its visit and that you do what you can to indefinitely postpone this ill-advised trip to Iran at this sensitive time.”

Diplomatic sources told Kol Israel radio on Tuesday that the visit sends contradictory messages to Tehran: on the one hand, the EU just imposed new sanctions in an effort to curtail Iran’s nuclear program, while on the other hand it is attempting to hold political dialogue with the regime.

Fourteen members of the European Parliament are planning an annual seven-day trip to Iran later this month, which they claim is for “humanitarian purposes.”

The Conference of Presidents of the EU Council is expected to decide whether to approve the trip on Thursday.

The Vienna-based European Stop the Bomb coalition, which campaigns for tough economic and political sanctions against the Iranian regime, has similarly urged the EU to call off the trip saying, “this visit would set the worst signal possible and subvert the Iranian opposition.”

European Parliament Vice President Alejo Vidal-Quadras called the trip “extremely counterproductive” on Tuesday, one day after the EU imposed new sanctions on Iran to curtail its nuclear program.