UK and France 'determined' to save Iran deal

France and Britain on Monday said they were "determined" to save the Iranian nuclear deal, despite the United States pulling out last week.

Speaking during a visit to London, French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian also condemned as "intolerable" comments by Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov after a knife-attack in Paris on Saturday.

Kadyrov had said that France bore "full responsibility" for the attack, which French police said was carried out by Chechnya-born French national Khamzan Azimov.

"We do not need lessons from a dictator who does not respect the... rule of law in his own country, and who also knows very well that there are thousands of Chechens fighting on the side of" Islamic State, Le Drian told AFP.

The attacker went on a stabbing spree in a busy district of central Paris on Saturday evening before police shot him dead, killing one person and seriously wounding four more.

Following talks with British counterpart Boris Johnson, Le Drian also spoke about the 2015 nuclear agreement between Iran and the 5+1 group (China, the US, France, Britain, Russia and Germany).

The agreement lifted international sanctions in exchange for Tehran promising to limit its sensitive nuclear activities and allow in international inspectors.

"Our position is one of determination and unity, of will to keep this agreement alive," Le Drian said.

"The US leaving an international agreement does not mean that the international agreement is null and void," said the French politician, on the eve of a Brussels meeting between the Iranian, French, British and German foreign ministers.

"We remain in the agreement and we want to keep it alive, as long as Iran respects it", he added, describing the agreement as "win-win".

"Our position is... united with the German position," continued the minister.

British counterpart Johnson said the "UK and France are determined to conserve the essence of the Iran nuclear deal.

"Tomorrow in Brussels, we are going to have a conversation about what we can do to help UK firms and help European firms have confidence that they can still do business.

"I'm not going to pretend to you now that it will be easy but we are determined to do that," he added, saying it was "vital that we continue to engage with the US".

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Zarif on Monday in Moscow said he wanted "assurances" from the deal's signatories that they would continue to abide by its terms, especially on sanctions relief for Tehran.

He was in Moscow on Monday following talks in Beijing over the weekend.

Pompeo seeking 'strong cooperation' with Europeans on Iran
Washington (AFP) May 14, 2018 - US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has reached out to European signatories of the Iran nuclear deal to seek their continued cooperation in countering Tehran's "malign behavior" following the US withdrawal from the landmark accord.

In talks with his counterparts from Britain, France and Germany, Pompeo "highlighted the good work that we have done over the past several months to address our common threats and said that he is hopeful we can continue strong cooperation moving forward," the State Department said.

President Donald Trump's announcement on Tuesday that the US was exiting the 2015 nuclear accord was met with widespread dismay by its other signatories -- Britain, China, France, Germany and Russia.

During recent conversations with Britain's Boris Johnson, France's Jean-Yves Le Drian and Germany's Heiko Maas, Pompeo stressed that they "share strong interests in preventing Iran from ever developing a nuclear weapon and in countering the Iranian regime's destabilizing activities in the region," according to a statement.

America's top diplomat said Sunday that Washington still wants to work with Europe to counter Iran's "malign behavior," and was working hard to thrash out a more wide-ranging deal with its European partners.

"I'm hopeful in the days and weeks ahead we can come up with a deal that really works, that really protects the world from Iranian bad behavior, not just their nuclear program, but their missiles and their malign behavior as well," he said.

While he has committed to remaining in the nuclear agreement, French President Emmanuel Macron floated the idea of a supplemental deal on Iran during a visit to Washington last month.

But even as Pompeo talked up coordination with America's allies, Trump's new National Security Advisor John Bolton reminded Europe over the weekend that its companies could face sanctions if they continue to do business with the Islamic republic.


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NUKEWARS
Trump pullout from Iran deal signals Mideast strategic shift
Paris (AFP) May 11, 2018
US President Donald Trump's rejection of an accord curbing Iran's nuclear activities and the escalation in hostilities between Iran and Israel that followed herald a new strategic dynamic in the Middle East that has heightened fears of greater conflict. While Europe is leading efforts to save the nuclear deal with Tehran, Iran's regional rivals Israel and Saudi Arabia both are behind Washington. "The result is a coalition that rather goes against their nature," said Denis Bauchard, Middle East e ... read more

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