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Germany's Merkel Emphasizes Need to Tackle Iran's 'Aggressive' Behavior

Germany's Merkel Emphasizes Need to Tackle Iran's 'Aggressive' Behavior

Thursday, 21 June, 2018 - 14:00
German Chancellor Angela Merkel speaks during a news conference at the Royal Palace in Amman, Jordan June 21, 2018. REUTERS/Muhammad Hamed
Amman- Asharq Al Awsat
German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Thursday said European countries have called for solutions to Iran's “aggressive tendencies” in the Middle East, expressing her concerns over the country's ballistic missile program.

“Iran’s aggressive tendencies must not only be discussed, but rather we need solutions urgently,” she said after meeting Jordan’s King Abdullah in Amman.

Germany has remained party to the Iran nuclear deal, which lifted sanctions on Tehran in exchange for curbing its atomic program, after US President Donald Trump withdrew from it in May.

Merkel said on Thursday that while European countries wanted to maintain the 2015 accord, they shared concerns over Iran’s ballistic missile program, its presence in Syria and its role in the war in Yemen.

In Syria, Iran is a big military supporter of head of Syrian regime Bashar al-Assad, sending some of its own forces there and backing militias from Lebanon and Iraq who are fighting on the ground. Tehran also arms Houthi insurgents in Yemen.

Merkel also voiced support for Jordanian concern about Iranian activity in southwestern Syria, near its border and that of the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights, where Tehran’s ally Damascus is ramping up a military operation.

Abdullah this month appointed a new prime minister after the country’s biggest protests in years over taxes and price increases pushed by the International Monetary Fund (IMF).

Merkel said reforms should be balanced and “not hit the wrong people”.

In addition to the 384 million euros in aid for Jordan, Germany is also providing it with a $100 million credit line to help it cope with the requirements of the IMF reforms, Merkel said.

The chancellor said Germany will provide the $100 million loan in addition to bilateral aid which amounts to about 384 million euros ($442 million) this year. She said she hopes the additional funds will help Jordan carry out economic reforms sought by the International Monetary Fund.

The IMF is seeking such reforms to lower Jordan's public debt-to-GDP ratio, which has risen to about 96 percent, in part because of the continued economic fallout from Syria's civil war and other regional crises.

"We are aware of the challenges you face, both in the realm of security and in civil society development," Merkel said, adding that she wished the government success in implementing "needed reforms."

"The IMF, and it's known for this, often has very ambitious ideas about reforms, and implementing them is anything but simple," she said.

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