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Iran FM heads to Brussels to save nuclear agreement

China Daily | Updated: 2018-05-16 10:50
Iran's Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif arrives at the EU council in Brussels, Belgium May 15, 2018. [Photo/Agencies]

Washington's exit from deal leaves uncertainties for German industries

BRUSSELS - Iran's foreign minister arrived in Brussels on Tuesday on the final leg of a global tour rallying diplomatic support for the country's nuclear deal with world powers after US President Donald Trump administration's abrupt withdrawal.

Mohammad Javad Zarif was scheduled to meet with his counterparts from Britain, France and Germany - the three European nations involved in the landmark deal who are incensed by Washington's abandonment of the pact.

After long negotiations, Iran agreed in July 2015 to freeze its nuclear program in return for the repeal of punishing international sanctions.

But last week, Trump announced he was leaving the deal and reimposing sanctions.

Zarif has since embarked on a whirlwind global tour, visiting both China and Russia, the two other signatory nations, in a bid to bolster support.

Washington's decision to go against its European allies' advice and abandon the deal has pushed them closer to Beijing and Moscow as diplomats scramble to keep the pact alive.

"The agreement with Iran is working, we must do our utmost to preserve it," Maja Kocijancic, spokeswoman for the head of European diplomacy Federica Mogherini, said ahead of Zarif's arrival.

Iran has said it is preparing to resume "industrial-scale" uranium enrichment "without any restrictions" unless Europe provides solid guarantees that it can maintain trade ties despite renewed US sanctions.

On Monday, Zarif met with his Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov, a day after visiting Beijing.

"The final aim of these negotiations is to seek assurances that the interests of the Iranian nation will be defended," Zarif said at the start of a meeting.

After the talks, Zarif praised the "excellent cooperation" between Moscow and Teheran and said Lavrov had promised to "defend and keep the agreement".

Lavrov, for his part, said Russia and Europe had a duty to "jointly defend their legal interests" in terms of the deal.

On Monday, Zarif also sent a letter to the United Nations in which he accused the US of showing a "complete disregard for international law" in pulling out of the deal.

Russian President Vladimir Putin has already spoken with German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan about efforts to save the accord, after voicing his "deep concern" over Trump's decision.

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