European Union and Iran to keep nuclear deal in place

Iran's Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif arrives at the EU council in Brussels Belgium

European Council President Donald Tusk derided US President Donald Trump over his administration's "capricious assertiveness" and called on the EU to unite on the Iran nuclear agreement and tariffs.

It is further said to be forming a united European front against the U.S. in response to leaving the Iran nuclear deal and imposition of trade tariffs on Europe.

European Council President Donald Tusk was unsparing in his characterization of the state of the E.U.

Options for the EU to protect European companies from negative consequences of the US decision were also needed, Tusk said.

"Besides the traditional political challenges such as the rise of China or the aggressive stance of Russian Federation, we are witnessing today a new phenomenon: the capricious assertiveness of the American administration", Tusk said. Thanks to him we got rid of all illusions. "Europe must do everything in its power to protect, in spite of today's mood, the Trans-Atlantic bond", he said.

The EU's 28 leaders are gathering in the Bulgarian capital for a dinner discussion Wednesday on how to salvage the Tehran accord and European business dealings with Iran, from Trump's sanctions to how to avoid a trade war in an escalating tariff dispute with the United States. Tusk said he wanted Europe to "stick to our guns" and described Trump's justification of tariffs on the basis of national security as "absurd".

The European leaders said they would be ready to also work with the United States to reform the World Trade Organization (WTO) - a nod to address concerns over Chinese trade practices and over a more technical issue with the WTO's Appellate Body.

The violence in Gaza will also be on the agenda as it was "linked to the bigger question of the consequences of the decisions of Donald Trump", an European Union official said.

Tusk demanded a permanent exemption from the threatened tariffs for the European Union, and said any claim by the USA that such tariffs are justified for national security would be "absurd".

The French energy giant Total said Wednesday that it will cease operations in Iran by November in order to avoid USA sanctions, while the Danish shipping firm Maersk and German insurer Alianz also have signaled their intentions of pulling out of Iran unless the companies secure tariff exemptions from Washington. "We need to bring reality back into this discussion".

The EU's top energy official, Commissioner Miguel Arias Canete, is meanwhile heading to Iran on May 18-21 for talks on energy cooperation, a symbolic gesture from the EU that it wants to stay engaged despite the USA withdrawal. "We are discussing this issue with the commission and I would encourage you to press for similar assurances to protect United Kingdom nationals".

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