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Haavisto to brief EU ministers on Sudan, Finnish presidency goals

A month after taking office, the Finnish foreign minister is negotiating on behalf of the EU in the Horn of Africa.

Pekka Haavisto
Greens chair Haavisto became foreign minister in early June. Image: Emmi Korhonen / Lehtikuva

Foreign Minister Pekka Haavisto will brief the EU's Foreign Affairs Council (FAC) in Brussels on Monday. He will report to fellow foreign ministers on the situation in Sudan and neighbouring countries, which he visited last week, negotiating as an EU envoy at the request of foreign policy High Representative Federica Mogherini.

Haavisto will also outline Finland's foreign and security policy priorities during its EU Presidency term over the next six months.

“One of Finland's objectives is to enhance EU participation in conflict prevention and mediation, to prevent and combat hybrid threats, to strengthen the EU Arctic policy and to put climate change mitigation at the core of such policy. Finland also strives to ensure that respect for international law and the promotion of universal human rights, democracy and the rule of law will be at the forefront of the entire external action of the Union,” Haavisto said in a statement.

The FAC will discuss the situations in Iran, Iraq, the Central African Republic and Sudan as well as migration issues.

Iran situation "explosive"

A Foreign Ministry statement describes the regional situation involving Iran as "explosive", and urges "all parties [to] focus on easing it".

Ministers will discuss the future of the tottering Iranian nuclear deal, formally titled the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), and encourage Tehran to stick to it despite the US pullout from the deal.

The ministers will discuss a payment channel called the Instrument in Support of Trade Exchanges (INSTEX), set up earlier this year by France, Germany and the UK to ease trade with Iran. It finally became operational in late June.

The aim is to support the nuclear programme agreement by facilitating trade in key humanitarian items such as food and medicine. The ministry says Finland is still considering whether to join INSTEX. Russia has also expressed interest in joining.

Later this week Haavisto is to visit Egypt, Saudi Arabia and the UAR.

In 2005-07, Haavisto served as EU Special Representative for Sudan and Darfur and as a UN Special Advisor in the Darfur Peace Process. He also led UN Environmental Programme teams in the Balkans and Romania.

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