France, Germany, UK to meet Iran on nuclear deal

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The French, British and German foreign ministers will meet Iranian representatives next week, France said Wednesday after President Donald Trump pulled the United States out of a landmark nuclear deal with Tehran.

“We will meet with my British and German colleagues on Monday, and also with representatives of Iran, to consider the entire situation,” French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian told RTL radio.

French President Emmanuel Macron will also speak with his Iranian counterpart Hassan Rouhani by telephone on Wednesday afternoon about “our wish to stay in the agreement,” Le Drian added.

“Iran needs to continue its determination to remain in the pact in return for economic benefits that the Europeans will try to preserve.”

Rouhani earlier accused Trump of “psychological warfare” over the withdrawal and warned Iran could resume uranium enrichment “without limit”.

But he said he will hold talks with the other signatories of the 2015 deal — Britain, France, Germany, Russia, China and the European Union — before announcing a decision.

French Economy Minister Bruno Le Maire said separately on France Culture radio that Trump’s decision was “an error” not just for international security but from an economic point of view.

It was “not acceptable” for the US to be the “economic policeman of the planet”, he said.

Trump defied European pleas to stay in the 2015 pact, which curbs Iran’s nuclear program in return for sanctions relief, and reimposed crippling sanctions which will come into effect within six months.

The decision marked a stark diplomatic defeat for Europe, whose leaders, repeatedly and in person, had begged Trump to think again.

Le Maire pointed out that the withdrawal gives European firms doing business in Iran the “very short time of six months” to wind up investments — or risk US sanctions.

“In two years, France has tripled its trade surplus with Iran,” he said.

Le Maire said this would lead to “consequences” for major French companies, such as Total, Sanofi, Renault and Peugeot.

He said he would have speak with US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin by the end of the week to “explore what the possibilities are” to avoid the sanctions, including possible exemptions.


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