May 24, 2018

Iran and European Union attempt to salvage deal

18 May 2018, 12:51 | Opal Carroll

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On Wednesday evening in Sofia, EU leaders spent several hours over dinner discussing how to protect the EU's interests, after two recent decisions by United States president Donald Trump: scrapping a nuclear deal with Iran and potentially sanction European companies doing business there and threatening to impose tariffs on steel and aluminium from 1 June.

"The EU is even ready to talk about trade liberalization with our American friends but only if the US decides an unlimited exemption from steel and aluminum tariffs", said EU Council President Donald Tusk after chairing the summit.

Among the topics of discussion are the European Union and Iran maintaining and deepening economic relations, effective banking transactions, transportation ties, investments and protections for European Union businesses operating in Iran.

The "beseeching" efforts made by Emanuel Marcon, Theresa May and Angela Merkel to dissuade Trump from scraping the worldwide deal in the weeks and days leading up to his final decision, which came out on May 8, fell on deaf ears.

"But frankly speaking, Europe should be grateful for President Trump because thanks to him we have got rid of all illusions".

The work, Mogherini said, is focusing on nine key areas including Iran's capacity to continue selling oil and gas as well as ways to protect European firms doing business in the country.

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Lithuanian President Dalia Grybauskaite, meanwhile, acknowledged that the pact with Iran, following the United States decision to unilaterally abandon it, was "damaged".

"Everybody in the European Union shares the opinion that the Iran agreement is not ideal, but that we should still remain in this agreement and that we should do further negotiations with Iran on the basis of this agreement", Merkel told reporters as she entered the summit. In response to a poser from a journalist whether China would order its companies to withdraw from Iran to avoid USA sanctions, the Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman said Beijing might defy the Trump administration.

"We have a few weeks left to save it", he said. The EU would seek to open up market access for American industrial products, loosen restrictions on procuring US goods for public agencies, help usher in reforms to the World Trade Organization, and import more American liquefied natural gas. Other EU officials have hinted at other measures to support Iran economically.

President Donald Trump joined by NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg, left, and Vice President Mike Pence, right, speaks during an expanded bilateral meeting in the Cabinet Room of the White House, in Washington, Thursday, May 17, 2018.

"If they can not do that, we are ready to take our nuclear programme to a level stronger than before the JCPOA", Ali Akbar Salehi said. "If the remaining five countries continue to abide by the agreement, Iran will remain in the deal despite the will of America", he said. He slammed Trump's "capricious assertiveness" saying that the USA leader acted more like an enemy than a friend.

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