EU lead­ers seek united front against US re­jec­tion of Iran deal

Manila Bulletin - - World News -

SOFIA (AFP) – Eu­ro­pean Union lead­ers will try to forge a united re­sponse at a sum­mit on Wed­nes­day to US Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump's shock de­ci­sions on the Iran nu­clear deal and trade tar­iffs.

The 28 lead­ers will also dis­cuss the deaths of dozens of Pales­tini­ans in Gaza af­ter Trump moved the US em­bassy to Jerusalem, in another move that the Euro­peans had strongly op­posed.

Trump has ef­fec­tively hi­jacked the agenda of the meet­ing in Bul­garia, which was orig­i­nally meant to dis­cuss ties with the Balkans, amid the worst rift in transat­lantic re­la­tions since the 2003 Iraq war.

EU Pres­i­dent Don­ald Tusk said the lead­ers in Sofia would ''re­flect on re­cent global de­vel­op­ments, in par­tic­u­lar fol­low­ing Pres­i­dent Trump's an­nounce­ments on Iran and trade as well as the lat­est, dra­matic events in Gaza.''

Their dis­cus­sions on Iran will come a day af­ter Tehran's for­eign min­is­ter held talks in Brus­sels with his Bri­tish, French and Ger­man coun­ter­parts in a bid to sal­vage the deal that Trump has pulled out of.

''I would like our de­bate to re­con­firm with­out any doubt that as long as Iran re­spects the pro­vi­sions of the deal, the EU will also re­spect it,'' Tusk said in a let­ter to the lead­ers.

Bri­tish Prime Min­is­ter Theresa May, Ger­man Chan­cel­lor An­gela Merkel and French Pres­i­dent Em­manuel Macron will ''present their as­sess­ment of the sit­u­a­tion'' to their col­leagues, he said.

Mogherini and Eu­ro­pean Com­mis­sion chief Jean-Claude Juncker will out­line to the lead­ers what mea­sures the bloc could take to shield its now sub­stan­tial eco­nomic in­ter­ests in Iran, Tusk added.

Eu­ro­pean diplo­mats have sought to play down ex­pec­ta­tions of Tues­day's meet­ing, stress­ing the enor­mous chal­lenge of find­ing a way around US sanc­tions pun­ish­ing for­eign busi­nesses trad­ing with Iran, which have global reach.

''We are not in panic here and we are not un­der ex­treme time pres­sure,'' a se­nior EU of­fi­cial said.

The Eu­ro­pean Union in­sists the deal is work­ing but Trump pulled out say­ing that it was the ''worst'' pos­si­ble agree­ment.

On Trump's de­ci­sion to im­pose tar­iffs on Eu­ro­pean and Chi­nese steel and alu­minium, a move the EU has warned could spark a trade war, Tusk urged the lead­ers to keep a uni­fied front.

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