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Wednesday, May 16, 2018, 10:21
Top EU diplomats agree to follow through Iran nuclear deal
By ​​Xinhua
Wednesday, May 16, 2018, 10:21 By ​​Xinhua

(From left) European Union foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini, Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif, French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian, German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas and British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson pose for a photo during a meeting of the foreign ministers from Britain, France and Germany with the Iran Foreign Minister and EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini, at the Europa building in Brussels, May 15, 2018. (OLIVIER MATTHYS, POOL / AP)

BRUSSELS - European top diplomats on Tuesday agreed to follow through the landmark Iran nuclear deal despite US President Donald Trump's decision to withdraw last week, EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini told reporters on Tuesday. 

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said the meeting had been a good start, but he wanted to see guarantees materialise

To this end, the EU will launch intensive discussion at all levels with Iran in next few weeks, Mogherini said at a press conference following a meeting with foreign ministers of Britain, Germany, France and Iran. 

The discussion will focus on, among others, how to maintain economic relations and effective banking transactions with Iran in the context of renewed US sanctions, according to Mogherini. 

"We reaffirm our resolve to continue to implement the nuclear deal in all its parts, in good faith, and in a constructive atmosphere," said Mogherini. 

"We are determined to ensure that Iran Deal stays in place. We know it's a difficult task but we are determined to do that," Mogherini noted, adding "we started to work to put in place measures that help ensure that this happens." 

"I cannot talk about legal or economic guarantees but I can talk about serious, determined, immediate work from the European side," Mogherini said.

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said the meeting had been a good start, but he wanted to see guarantees materialise. "We are on the right track ... a lot will depend on what we can do in next few weeks," he said. 

"We need to receive those guarantees, and we will see how best we will move over," Zarif told reporters, reports Reuters. 
READ MORE: UK's Johnson: We should not pursue regime change in Iran

Highlighting just how difficult it will be, the US Treasury announced on Tuesday more sanctions, including on Iran's central bank governor, just minutes before the Brussels meeting was due to begin. Valiollah Seif, the governor of the Iranian central bank, was named a "specially designated global terrorist" along with another senior official, Ali Tarzali, who works in the central bank's international division. The Treasury Department accused the men of secretly funneling millions of dollars through an Iraqi bank to help Hezbollah, the militant network that the US considers a terrorist group.

Mogherini said she will brief leaders of EU members states on Wednesday in Sofia, Bulgaria, which is about to host the EU-Western Balkan summit. 

Zarif is in Brussels on the final leg of a whirlwind diplomatic tour to save the 2015 nuclear deal after the recent US withdrawal from the pact. 

Trump declared last week that the United States would withdraw from the deal, claiming that it had failed to prevent Iran from developing nuclear weapons or supporting terrorism in the region. 

US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin elaborated in an announcement that "sanctions will be reimposed subject to certain 90-day and 180-day wind-down periods." 

Much to Europe's displeasure, foreign companies doing business with Iran are also at the crosshairs of the US sanctions. 

In response to the looming US sanctions, British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson told reporters upon his arrival at the meeting: "that doesn't mean there aren't some things we can do." 

"We will be looking at all the ways that we can come up with to protect the legitimate UK and European business who may want to trade with Iran, who do want to trade, and in indeed who have great plans to do that," he said. 
ALSO READ: Beijing to uphold Iran nuclear deal; Teheran still on board

The landmark agreement was signed in July 2015 by Iran and the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council - Britain, China, France, Russia and the United States - plus the European Union (EU) and Germany. 

Under the deal, Iran agreed to freeze its nuclear programs in return for the lifting of most international sanctions. 

According to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) in Vienna, Iran has so far complied with all of the conditions established under the deal.  
With Reuters & AP inputs

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