Iran, EU hold talks amid pressure to impose sanctions over crackdown on protests

Tehran, Iran

Iran’s foreign minister spoke by phone Friday evening with the European Union’s foreign policy chief, with talks mostly centered on the ongoing protests in Iran.

According to a statement released by the Iranian Foreign Ministry on Saturday.

Amini, 22, died last month after being detained by Iranian morality police for wearing “inappropriate attire”. While his family has alleged foul play in his tragic death, Iranian officials have repeatedly denied that claim.

The incident, which sparked waves of anger and outrage across Iran with massive street protests, also drew condemnation from Western countries.

The government has yet to announce the official death toll from the protests that first erupted in Amini’s hometown of Sanandaj in western Iran before spreading to other cities. , but independent groups put the death toll at more than 100.

Human rights groups have accused Iranian police of using unbridled force against protesters, but Iranian authorities accuse Western powers of “fomenting riots” in the country.

During their telephone conversation, the senior Iranian diplomat told his European counterpart that a forensic report by specialized experts on Amini’s death had already been published and that the judicial investigation was also underway.

He accused Western countries, especially the United States and Canada, of human rights abuses and police excesses, the statement noted, adding that the confrontation with rioters in Europe is seen as legitimate. but that it is also considered a “repression” in Iran.

The statement quoted Borrell as saying that the European Union “does not intend to interfere” in Iran’s internal affairs.

Simmering protests over Amini’s death prompted the EU to impose sanctions on Iran, toeing the line taken by the United States, Canada and Britain.

Last week, Amir-Abdollahian, in a phone call with his French counterpart Catherine Colonna, objected to what he called Europe’s “interference” in Iran’s internal affairs, putting warns against “countermeasures” if the EU imposes bans on the country.

This came after the French foreign minister confirmed that five French nationals were being held in Iran and said the EU had agreed on the technical aspects of imposing sanctions on those “involved in repression”.

The European Parliament also recently adopted a resolution calling for an “impartial and independent” investigation into Amini’s death and condemning what it called “widespread and disproportionate use of force by Iranian security forces” against protesters.

The issue is expected to be raised at the meeting of EU foreign ministers this week. The last time the bloc agreed to impose human rights-related sanctions on Iran was in 2021.

Meanwhile, Canada announced additional sanctions against Iranian officials on Thursday, building on those announced on October 3.

The new sanctions package targeted 17 individuals and 3 entities, including a senior judicial prosecutor, an army brigadier, a senior journalist, a former foreign minister and a former president, among others.

This came days after Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced plans to bar around 10,000 members of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) from entering Canada.

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