EU leaders seek united front against US rejection of Iran deal
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.