Russian President Vladimir Putin and German Chancellor Angela Merkel agreed that preserving the Iranian nuclear deal is a matter of “tremendous importance”, adding that the agreement should be kept by all means necessary.
The Russian leader hosted his German counterpart in the Kremlin on Saturday, according to RT.
The meeting came after European foreign ministers on Friday rallied behind the 2015 Iran nuclear deal, despite US president’s renewed call for allies to abandon it.
The European Union has said that it will “spare no effort” to keep the nuclear deal alive, even though Tehran said it would no longer be bound by the agreement’s restrictions on centrifuges and uranium enrichment following the Trump administration’s assassination of Iranian Lieutenant General Qassem Soleimani, according to The Washington Post.
During an emergency session on Friday, the European foreign ministers also said the escalation between the United States and Iran had risked progress against the Daesh terrorist group.
In an attempt to avoid an escalation between Iran and the US, EU leaders in the recent week have intensified diplomatic activities, trying to salvage the EU-brokered nuclear deal while making sure the US-led anti-Daesh coalition continues to operate in Iraq after Iraq’s parliament called for the withdrawal of all foreign troops from the country, Euractiv website reported.
“The region cannot afford another war, we call for an urgent de-escalation and maximum restraint,” EU’s chief diplomat Josep Borrell told reporters following the meeting in Brussels on Friday, that had reaffirmed European commitments preserving the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA).
“We have been saying in the past and we continue to say that we regret the US decision to withdraw from the deal,” Borrell said, “And we continue believing that this deal is a key element of the global nuclear non-proliferation architecture and critical for the regional stability.”
He also warned that negotiating a new pact would be a “very complex, highly technical process” that would take a long time.
The US Special Representative for Iran Brian Hook claimed on Friday that Washington’s sanctions policy on Iran is a more effective non-proliferation tool to force Tehran to negotiate a broader accord than the 2015 nuclear deal,
His remarks stood in contrast to those of EU foreign ministers.
“It is clear that we are in a completely different position from the United States,” Borrell told reporters after the meeting.
Borrell also admitted that the potential differences between the treaty parties could at some point become so irreconcilable that they could risk the deal collapsing.
The European officials did not consider triggering a dispute resolution process that could lead to renewed United Nations sanctions on Iran.
Since the Trump administration decided to exit the deal in 2018, all three European parties to the pact – Britain, France and Germany – have repeatedly stressed their commitment to saving it, even after a call by Trump on Wednesday urging them to join him in walking away.
One of the contentious points between Europe and Washington has been the Instrument in Support of Trade Exchanges (INSTEX), which was born as the brainchild of France, Germany and the UK in January 2019, and recently joined by further European countries.
It was created as a special purpose vehicle to help EU companies do business with Iran and facilitate non-USD transactions to avoid breaking US sanctions against the country.
European efforts, however, to ensure that Iran can keep trading in spite of the sanctions have had little impact.
The Trump administration on Friday imposed new sanctions on Iran, with the latest round set to target multiple sectors of the Islamic Republic’s economy, including construction, manufacturing, textiles, and mining.
Borrell has invited Iranian Foreign Minister Mohamed Javad Zarif for talks to Brussels, but a date for his visit has yet to be set.