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EU urges Iran to respect N-deal, rejects ‘ultimatum’

The Associated Press

EU leaders stand for a group photo at an EU summit in Sibiu, Romania, on Thursday.

The Associated Press BRUSSELS (AP) — The European Union on Thursday urged Iran to respect the international agreement curbing the Islamic Republic’s nuclear ambitions, and added that the bloc aims to continue trading with the country despite U.S. sanctions.

The EU and major European powers — Britain, France and Germany — also said that they “note with great concern the statement made by Iran concerning its commitments” to the nuclear deal, stressing that they “reject any ultimatums” coming from Tehran.

The joint statement came as the bloc struggles to preserve the 2015 nuclear deal with Iran, a day after a new deadline from Tehran on finding a solution to make up for last year’s unilateral U.S. withdrawal from the accord and re-imposed U.S. sanctions on Iran.

“We remain fully committed to the preservation and full implementation” of the deal, endorsed by the U.N. Security Council, said the EU statement.

The Trump administration pulled the United States out of the 2015 deal a year ago, saying it does nothing to stop Iran from developing missiles or destabilizing the Middle East. The Europeans insist that the pact is an important pillar of regional and global security and was never meant to address those other issues.

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said in a televised address Wednesday that signatories to the deal now have 60 days to come up with a plan to shield his country — already laboring under economic hardship — from the sanctions imposed by U.S. President Donald Trump.

As the sanctions bite, domestic pressure is increasing on Rouhani to demonstrate that Iran can still benefit from an agreement based on providing it with economic opportunities in exchange for limiting nuclear development.

“Iran must remain in this agreement and we must do everything we can to ensure that it stays in,” French President Emmanuel Macron told reporters at an EU summit in Romania, where leaders were to discuss the standoff.

Amid the heated rhetoric from Tehran and Washington, Macron urged the agreement’s signatories not to “get caught up in any escalation” and to “jointly watch over our collective security.”

In their statement, the EU powers said they “regret the re-imposition of sanctions” by the United States and remain “determined to continue pursuing efforts to enable the continuation of legitimate trade with Iran.”

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zaris said Thursday the United States has bullied Europe and the rest of the world with its Iran policy. “Instead of demanding that Iran unilaterally abide by a multilateral accord, EU should uphold obligations — incl normalization of economic ties,” he wrote on Twitter.Speech

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