0757 GMT January 23, 2020
The European Union said in a statement that representatives from the nations that are still parties to the Iran nuclear deal plan to meet in Vienna on Sunday to see to what extent the agreement can be salvaged in the wake of the United States pulling out and Iran’s scaling down some of its commitments under the deal.
The EU said in a statement on Tuesday that the meeting of China, Russia, Britain, France, Germany and chaired by the EU “will examine issues linked to the implementation of the (nuclear deal) in all its aspects,” according to AP.
The urgent meeting in Vienna, which will be chaired by the EU foreign policy service's secretary general, Helga Schmid, was requested by France, Germany, the UK and Iran, it said.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and his French counterpart, Jean-Yves Le Drian, discussed over the phone on Tuesday specific steps aimed at preserving the deal, the Russian Foreign Ministry reported.
"[The two ministers] agreed to continue taking specific steps to preserve the JCPOA and ease tensions around Iran," the ministry said, according to TASS.
The US was initially a signatory, but later abandoned the deal and unleashed a hostile campaign of economic sanctions meant to hamper the implementation of the agreement both by Iran and the remaining signatories.
The European parties to the deal have since been trying to convince Iran to remain in the pact by promising to shield its economic interests from US sanctions.
In May, a year after the US exit, Tehran began reducing its commitments under the nuclear deal on a stage-by-stage basis in response to Washington’s pullout and the ensuing European failure to make up for America’s absence.
Tehran has set a deadline for the European co-signatories to live up to their end of the bargain to prevent more commitment reductions, which could ultimately lead to Iran’s pullout if the trio continues to fail.
Araqchi in Paris
Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister for Political Affairs Abbas Araqchi traveled to Paris to deliver a message from President Hassan Rouhani to his French counterpart, Emmanuel Macron.
In a post on his Twitter account on Monday, Iran’s Foreign Ministry spokesman Seyyed Abbas Mousavi said that Araqchi had left for the French capital as Rouhani’s special representative.
Araqchi, he added, would pass on the Iranian president’s written message to Macron, whose country – along with Britain, Germany, Russia and China – is a signatory to a 2015 nuclear deal with Iran, which is formally known as the Joint Commission of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA).
Two weeks ago, Emmanuel Bonne, Macron’s top diplomatic advisor, visited Tehran, as part of efforts to salvage the JCPOA.
Last week, the Iranian and French presidents held a phone conversation about the JCPOA’s future, during which Rouhani said Tehran was determined to “keep all doors open” to keep the accord alive.