European Union top diplomats to meet Iranian counterpart to salvage nuclear deal

US President Donald Trump at the White House on 11 May                  REUTERS  Leah Millis

US President Donald Trump at the White House on 11 May REUTERS Leah Millis

Iran's leaders pushed Sunday to preserve the nuclear deal with world powers after the U.S. pulled out of it, with its foreign minister embarking on a diplomatic tour to China demanding that the European signatories remain faithful to the accord.

Iran's Foreign Minister Javad Zarif described his government's reaction to President Trump's decision on Tuesday to re-impose US sanctions on foreign companies that do business with Iran, in a statement posted to Twitter on Friday.

"Iran's Military Budget is up more than 40% since the Obama negotiated Nuclear Deal was reached.just another indicator that it was all a big lie".

Asked whether the USA sanctions will hit the Chabahar port project, Kumar said it was too early to analyse and come up with conclusions about implications of USA withdrawal from the nuclear deal.

This could in turn lead to a nuclear arms race in the Middle East, with Saudi Arabia also planning a nuclear program unless Iran is kept under check.

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Divisions in Iran over what should happen next were illustrated as senior cleric Ayatollah Ahmad Khatami told worshippers at Tehran University on Friday that European nations could not be trusted.

In February, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani visited India during which both sides agreed to further expand their cooperation in number of key sectors. France has come down heavily on the decision, with French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire saying that Europe can not afford to follow the whims of the United States when it comes to protecting its economic and diplomatic interests, according to BBC.

French exports to Iran doubled last year to €1.5 billion, while German exports rose by €400 million last year to €3 billion. Around 120 German firms have operations with their own staff in Iran, including Siemens (SIEGn.DE), and some 10,000 German companies trade with Iran.

"We are ready to talk to all the companies concerned about what we can do to minimize the negative consequences", he told Deutschlandfunk radio, according to Reuters. The White House has said the USA will put those sanctions back into place. "That means, it is concretely about damage limitation" and offering legal advice, he said. "Do they want to do business with a threat?"

Altmaier said Germany wanted to avoid "a spiral of escalation" in transatlantic trade relations. Merkel said it was important to maintain a "strong transatlantic partnership" but added: "If everybody does what they like, then this is bad news for the world". It is not a solicitation to make any exchange in commodities, securities or other financial instruments.

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