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Russia and Europe back Iran accord

China Daily | Updated: 2018-05-15 07:25

Teheran calls for guarantees from EU countries as ministers meet in Moscow

MOSCOW - Iran's Foreign Minister Mohammed Javad Zarif was in Moscow on Monday, as Russia tries to keep the Iran nuclear deal alive in the wake of Washington's pullout, pushing it into rare cooperation with Europe.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said he was scheduled to discuss how to try to save the nuclear deal with Zarif, the Interfax news agency reported.

Zarif's tour also took him to Beijing at the weekend and will see him visit Brussels later in the week, as the international backers of the 2015 accord scrabble to save it.

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

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

Just as Zarif embarked on the tour, remarks quoting an Iranian official said that European countries have 60 days to provide "guarantees" to safeguard Iran's interests after the United States withdrew.

"The Europeans have between 45 and 60 days to give the necessary guarantees to safeguard Iranian interests and compensate the damages caused by the US pullout," Icana.ir reported.

The website attributed the remarks to Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Araghchi as reported by Seyyed Hossein Naghavi, spokesman of parliament's foreign affairs commission.

The United Kingdom and its European partners remain committed to ensuring the nuclear deal with Iran is upheld and Teheran must continue to meet its obligations under the pact, British Prime Minister Theresa May told the Iranian president on Sunday.

"Both leaders agreed the importance of continued dialogue between the two countries, and looked forward to the meeting of the British, German, French and Iranian foreign ministers in Brussels on Tuesday," according to a readout of the call with Iranian President Hassan Rouhani that was issued by May's office.

So far, China, France, Russia, Britain, Germany and Iran remain in the accord, which placed controls on Iran's nuclear program and led to a relaxation of economic sanctions against Iran and companies doing business there.

'Possible' sanctions

The US threatened on Sunday to impose sanctions on European companies that do business with Iran, as the remaining participants in the nuclear accord stiffened their resolve to keep the agreement operational.

White House national security adviser John Bolton said US sanctions on European companies that maintain business dealings with Iran were "possible", while Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said he remained hopeful Washington and its allies could strike a new nuclear deal with Teheran.

Bolton struck a more hawkish tone with his comments in an interview with CNN's State of the Union program than Pompeo did on Fox News Sunday.

Bolton said Europe was still digesting Trump's move last week, declaring a withdrawal from the 2015 deal negotiated by the former US president Barack Obama's administration.

"I think at the moment there's some feeling in Europe - they're really surprised we got out of it, really surprised at the reimposition of strict sanctions. I think that will sink in; we'll see what happens then," Bolton said.

Reuters - Afp - Xinhua

(China Daily 05/15/2018 page11)

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