Iran, EU to hold ministerial meeting next week in Brussels

Marco Green
May 16, 2018

Mogherini said "expert talks" on relevant financial and economic issues such as banking transactions and oil would begin soon and the deputy foreign ministers from the three European nations and Iran would meet in Vienna next week.

Russia, China and Turkey see U.S. withdrawal from the Iran nuclear deal an opportunity, while the Europeans are scrambling to protect their businesses from new American sanctions.

Foreign ministers of Iran and three European countries - Britain, France and Germany - and Federica Mogherini, high representative of the European Union for foreign affairs and security policy, will meet on Tuesday to discuss the new situation after the US withdrawal, the diplomat said on condition of anonymity. However, he said, if the benefits of the deal to Iran are cut, the country will decide on new measures.

China's Xinhua News Agency also reported on May 9 that China's special envoy for the Middle East, Gong Xiaosheng, said after meeting with Iranian officials that the multilateral deal is "very serious and important".

Peter Beyer (CDU), the federal government's official commissioner for transatlantic relations, urged German firms operating in Iran on Tuesday to prepare for the swift imposition of US sanctions. But senior Iranian official Ali Akbar Velayati said in Tehran that Iran's defensive missile program was not negotiable.

The US President Donald Trump announced May 8 that the United States walks away from the accord reached in 2015 between Tehran and the six world powers.

The European members of the deal are trying to keep it alive without the U.S. Yet it's unclear that will be workable, because Trump has vowed to punish European companies that continue doing business with Iran despite re-imposed U.S. sanctions.

At the same time, the statement said the other parties to the agreement - especially Britain, France and Germany - must safeguard the accord, implement their commitments, and "proceed from giving pledges to taking practical action without any preconditions".

"We hope that with this visit to China and other countries we will be able to construct a clear future design for the comprehensive agreement", Mohammad Javad Zarif told reporters after talks in Beijing with his Chinese counterpart Wang Yi. "The US has systematically forced Iran to turn more towards Russian Federation and China", he told AFP.

The situation could revitalize Russian-Iranian economic ties that have been losing ground in recent years.

"It is necessary that Iran stays in the agreement".

Commenting on the United States withdrawal from the deal, Merkel said that European countries can no longer rely on the U.S. "to protect it", adding that "Europe must take its destiny into its own hands".

Bruno Le Maire, France's finance minister, also said he spoke with Mnuchin about getting an exemption for French firms that are present in Iran, including Renault, Total and Peugeot.

Merkel said the USA decision to withdraw from the deal was a serious blow, and that it would be hard to keep the deal alive, given that a "huge economic power has left".

Exports of German goods to Iran rose by around 400 million euros to 3 billion euros.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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