Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif speaks after a meeting with EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini at the EU Council in Brussels.
BRUSSELS: Iran’s talks with European countries to save the nuclear deal are on the right path despite the US withdrawal, its foreign minister said after meeting the EU’s foreign policy chief.

Britain, France and Germany were to press Iran yesterday to stay in the nuclear accord which US President Donald Trump abandoned last week and which has left Europe with few ways of keeping the accord’s benefits flowing to Tehran.

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.

EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini, who met Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, said it was up to the European powers “to preserve a deal we have achieved together. We will all save it together”.

Speaking after talks with Mogherini, Zarif struck an optimistic note. “Our meeting with Mrs Mogherini was good and constructive We are on the right path to move forward. Whatever is decided should preserve and guarantee Iran’s rights. Our talks (with the E3) will continue in the next two weeks,” he said, referring to Britain, France and Germany.

“We agreed over the importance of full implementation of the nuclear deal and preserving the interests of Iran and all those remaining parties,” he said.

But European diplomats briefed on the Brussels meeting acknowledged that the EU support, however sincere, risked looking hollow after Trump last week reimposed an array of wide sanctions on the Islamic Republic that will hit European companies investing in Iran. Without the US, it is going to weaken potential EU measures to preserve the deal as positively.

“It is going to be very difficult for us to preserve the economic benefits of the Iran deal,” one senior European diplomat said.

“We will try to uphold our side of the bargain.”

Following last night’s evening talks in Brussels, all 28 EU leaders are expected to discuss their next steps at a summit in Sofia, Bulgaria, today, but no decisions are expected. - Reuters/African News Agency