By Julian Pecquet - 10/17/12 09:10 PM EDT
Senate Democrats on Wednesday strongly urged their European Union counterparts to nix a planned trip to Iran, saying it would send “the wrong message at this particularly sensitive time.”
“As you know, we strongly support increased ties between the United States Senate and the European Parliament, and we believe it is critical that we work together to present a strong, united front in our efforts regarding Iran at this critical juncture,” Sens. Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.) and Ben Cardin (D-Md.) wrote in a letter to European Parliament President Martin Schulz. “With these concerns in mind, we respectfully ask that the delegation reconsiders its visit and that you do what you can to indefinitely postpone this ill-advised trip to Iran at this sensitive time.”
Fourteen members of the European Parliament are planning an annual trip to Iran later this month. The Conference of Presidents of the EU Council is expected to decide whether to approve the seven-day trip on Thursday.
The visit is organized by the parliament's Delegation for Relations with Iran, which bills itself as seeking to build bridges between Europe and Iran. The trip is controversial within the European Union itself, with European Parliament Vice President Alejo Vidal-Quadras calling it “extremely counterproductive” on Tuesday, one day after the EU slapped tough new sanctions on Iran to curtail its alleged nuclear weapons program.
Israel also objected to the visit on Tuesday, according to a report by Kol Yisrael radio.