By Tim McNulty
JEREMY Corbyn has called on the incoming Biden admistration to reach out to Iran in order to avoid a full-scale conflict breaking out in the Middle East.
Speaking during a virtual meeting of anti-war campaigners, the former Leader of the Opposition welcomed signs that Joe Biden favours normalising ties with Tehran.
President-elect Biden has signalled his support for a return to the Iran Nuclear Deal which was signed in 2015 under Barack Obama, but later abandoned by Donald Trump.
In conservation with writer and activist Tariq Ali, Corbyn said: “The Iran nuclear agreement was a major step forward and something to be absolutely welcomed because it gave the opportunity for a long to aspiration of a nuclear weapons free zone in the Middle East.
“President-elect Biden saying that he would he would return to the Iran nuclear agreement is I think welcome and I hope that it actually takes place because that will help to reduce a lot of tensions.”
The former Leader of the Opposition also blamed Trump’s outgoing administration for stocking tensions between Saudi Arabia, Iran and other countries in the region, especially around the contested Strait of Hormuz.
Corbyn stressed: “The build-up of US influence and cooperation with Saudi Arabia, the UAE, mainly, in hostility with Iran does provide a huge flash point and the more naval forces which are put into the Strait of Hormuz the greater the pressure builds up.
“The danger that there will be an incident, maybe accidental but an incident of some sort which could lead to some sort of hot war is absolutely huge. So there has to be a reckoning and a rapprochement with Iran.”
Turning to the international fallout from the coronavirus pandemic and the response of the UK government, the former Labour leader blasted the decision to cut foriegn aid spending.
As part of the Spending Review, the Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak announced a temporary reduction in the UK’s aid budget from 0.7 per cent to 0.5 per cent of national income.
Responding this decision, Corbyn said: “The government has announced a substantial increase in defence spending a couple of weeks ago. That increase in expenditure is being paid for by public sector cuts and in particular public sector wage freezes.
“It is also being paid for by cuts in the overseas aid budget, I can think of nothing more crass and irresponsible to do than at a time of trying to get out of Covid to cut overseas aid and support for international institutions at the very time when a global health service is required and support for WHO aspirations on universal access to healthcare across the world.”
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