German foreign minister hopes to ease tensions in visit to Iraq

German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas appealed for a de-escalation of regional tensions as he arrived for a visit in Iraq on Saturday, urging all sides not to “add fuel to the fire” and calling on Europe to step up its mediation role.

“There is a clear danger of miscalculations, misunderstandings, provocations leading to unforeseeable consequences in this highly tense region,” Maas warned on arrival in Baghdad.

Maas planned to hold talks with Prime Minister Adel Abdel Mahdi and President Barham Salih and said he would push the Iraqi government to continue playing a mediating role between the United States and Iran.

“Baghdad is in many ways at the heart of the Middle East. This is where conflicts become clear as day,” Maas said.

The Baghdad portion of Maas’ trip was previously unannounced for security reasons. On Sunday, Maas is due to continue to the United Arab Emirates and Jordan, before heading to Iran, where he will lobby for the preservation of the 2015 nuclear deal.


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