European Union foreign policy chief meets Iranian FM in Brussels

European Union foreign policy chief meets Iranian FM in Brussels

After an hour-long meeting at European Union headquarters in Brussels, Zarif said he believed both sides were "on the right track" to make sure that the interests of the deal's "remaining participants, particularly Iran, will be preserved and guaranteed".

After holding talks in China, the top Iranian diplomat departed to Moscow as part of efforts to save the nuclear deal reached between Tehran and the six world powers in 2015, which provides the Islamic Republic with relief from global sanctions in return for curbing its nuclear program.

Many European diplomats doubt privately that the 2015 accord between Iran and six world powers can survive the reimposition of USA sanctions ordered by Trump, but the European powers will say that they stick by the terms of the 2015 pact giving Iran sanctions relief in return for an end to its nuclear ambitions.

The EU, which with Germany, France, Britain, Russia, China and the United States, signed the nuclear accord with Iran, does have some steps it can take to shield European business in Iran.

Trump also said he would reinstate U.S. nuclear sanctions on Iran and impose "the highest level" of economic bans on the Islamic Republic.

Zarif, after a closed-door meeting with Mogherini in Brussels, said: "My meeting with Mogherini was good and constructive". The deal went into force in January 2016.

Malaysia PM To Extend Tenure, Probe Najib's Regime
Mahathir also said he may bring a case against former Prime Minister Najib Razak, who has been accused of corruption. Reuters was unable to reach Najib himself, his wife, or other family members and close associates on Saturday night.

There was no press conference following the Lavrov-Zarif talks in Moscow.

"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.

Lavrov, for his part, said Russian Federation and Europe had a duty to "jointly defend their legal interests" in terms of the deal. Moscow has previously stated its strong support for the agreement.

"(European) cooperation with Russian Federation, which until recently seemed impossible because of the Skripal (spy poisoning) case, with the expulsion of diplomats and the reduction of contact, is now receiving a fresh boost", consultant Andrei Baklitski of the PIR Center NGO said."The Europeans, after the withdrawal of the USA from the deal, have found themselves forced to save the Joint Cooperative Plan of Action themselves", he added.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said the U.S. still wanted to work with the Europeans on a new deal.

Merkel is set to visit Russian Federation and meet Putin in the Black Sea resort of Sochi on Friday, while French President Emmanuel Macron will be in Saint Petersburg later this month for an economic forum.

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