World powers back Iran oil exports, remain committed to nuclear deal

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Foreign ministers and senior diplomats from Britain, China, France, Germany and Russian Federation held talks on Friday with their Iranian counterpart, Mohammad Javad Zarif, in Vienna for the first time since US President Donald Trump announced he was abandoning the nuclear deal and moving to re-impose sanctions on Iran.

The meeting was chaired by EU High Representative Federica Mogherini and attended at the ministerial level by China, France, Germany, Russia, Britain and Iran.

They said they remained committed to the accord and to building up trade and investment links with Iran, including "the continuation of Iran's export of oil and gas" and other energy products.

In another telephone conversation with his French counterpart Emmanuel Macron on Thursday, Rouhani also underlined the need to meet the demands of the Islamic republic by the parties to JCOPA. Several major firms - including France's Total and Peugeot, and Russia's Lukoil - have said they are preparing to leave.

Maas called the European offer "attractive" but conceded that "we won't be able to compensate for all the effects of enterprises withdrawing from Iran because they see their American business interests threatened by the sanctions".

"We all know that we want to stay in the nuclear deal, and we believe that we should keep talks in a quite atmosphere", she said.

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German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas admitted that the situation is hard, and the European Union wants to make it clear to Iran that it has economic benefits from that deal, and it's looking for measures to benefit Tehran under the deal.

Since Trump s announcement, Iran s rial currency has fallen, prices have risen and the country has been hit by street protests and strikes.

However, US President Donald Trump has urged the IAEA to widen its inspections to Iran's military sites despite his decision on May 8 to pull out of the deal. "We expect a clear action plan from Europe with a timetable so it can compensate for the USA exit from the deal".

US-Iran relations have been hostile since the 1979 overthrow of the US-backed shah and US embassy hostage crisis.

An Austria-based Iranian diplomat was among four people arrested on suspicion of plotting an attack on an Iranian opposition group in France last week. Iran has said it had nothing to do with the plot and has demanded the official be released without delay.

Tehran dismissed it is an orchestrated "false flag ploy", created to discredit Iran and overshadow Rouhani s trip to Europe, and Wednesday summoned the French and Belgian ambassadors and the German charge d affaires in protest.

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