Allies at Cross-Purposes: Trump Puts Europe Into Damage-Control Mode

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European powers alarmed by Donald Trump's withdrawal from the Iran nuclear accord set out this week on an urgent search for ways to hold the deal together and avoid a further escalation of violence in the Middle East.

"There was awareness of the urgency", Mogherini said after the meeting in Brussels.

"That's what we are going to do and I will be hard at it with the Europeans in the next several days", said the top USA diplomat. Its goal has been to contain Iran's nuclear programme in return for lifting sanctions which would enable economic development in that country.

European foreign ministers met with their Iranian counterparts Tuesday as the remaining countries in the multination Iran nuclear agreement seek to preserve it following the Trump administration's withdrawal.

While stressing that normalization of economic and trade relations with Tehran requires a central element of the agreement, she also voiced the bloc's regrets of the US' move. Moreover, he maintains that the deal lifts sanctions on Iran, while not addressing Iran's "malign" behaviour of allegedly supporting terrorism and developing ballistic missiles that threaten United States allies like Israel and Saudi Arabia.

"We will be hard at that in the weeks ahead".

Taking to Twitter, the US President wrote, "Iran's Military Budget is up more than 40% since the Obama negotiated nuclear deal was reached... just another indicator that it was all a big lie".

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"We don't want to be this position in which America is out but nothing clearly happens on the ground", Amidror said. Iran's Foreign Minister Zarif failed to win any concrete assurances to help tackle the United States threat of economic sanctions during talks in Beijing Sunday.

The European ministers also brought up in the talks their concerns over Iran's ballistic missile programme and regional activities, diplomats said.

After visiting China, Zarif, who was Iran's lead negotiator during the marathon nuclear talks, traveled to Moscow.

Total, which signed a $2 billion deal past year to develop an Iranian gas field, remains tight-lipped. This necessitates close diplomatic coordination with Europe before the 180-day period lapses. The countries of the European Union are particularly vulnerable to President's Trump's announcement.

After the President threatened foreign firms that continue trading with Iran with "strong sanctions", Trump's national security adviser John Bolton told American TV he thought the United Kingdom and France would follow suit and ditch the 2015 deal.

"We have to be realistic about the electrified rail, the live wire of American extraterritoriality and how (it) can serve as a deterrent to business", Johnson told reporters.

Britain's Foreign Minister Boris Johnson was blunt about the chances of avoiding US sanctions that also seek to prohibit foreign companies from doing business with Iran. While both their statements cited the importance of UNSCR 2231-which unanimously passed in 2015, codifying the JCPOA-Mogherini's statement signaled a European interest in deterring Washington from enforcing sanctions. In the administration's view, measures like crippling USA -led sanctions against Pyongyang's critical industries brought North Korean leader Kim Jong Un to his knees - and the same policy should work with Tehran, as well.

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