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Europe to step up diplomatic efforts on Iran crisis: Germany

Europe to step up diplomatic efforts on Iran crisis: Germany

Helsinki: European countries will step up diplomatic efforts to save the beleaguered Iran nuclear deal, Germany's foreign minister said Friday after talks with Britain and France.

Tensions have spiked recently in the Gulf, where Iran has seized Western tankers as Tehran and Washington have locked horns over the 2015 deal.

US President Donald Trump last year unilaterally pulled out of the accord that handed Iran relief from sanctions in return for curbs on its atomic programme.

The move alarmed European powers, which see the deal as the best way to stop Iran acquiring nuclear weapons, and infuriated the Islamic republic.

The foreign ministers of Britain, France and Germany — the three European parties to the deal — were joined by EU diplomatic chief Federica Mogherini for talks on the sidelines of an EU meeting in Helsinki.

Germany's Heiko Maas said the trio wanted to build on momentum from last weekend's G7 summit, where Trump indicated willingness to talk to Iran.

"Our priority is to open the dialogue window between the US and Iran," Maas told reporters.

"Especially after the G7 summit in Biarritz we are all of the opinion that the momentum that perhaps exists, the readiness for dialogue on both sides... must now be used." Mogherini said Thursday the EU would support such a move — provided the current deal was preserved.

The Europeans have

repeatedly said they are committed to saving the deal, but efforts to shield Iran's economy from the reimposition of US sanctions have so far borne little fruit.

"We will be discussing further diplomatic efforts together with the French and the British — including in the region with all the countries bordering the Gulf," Maas said. Ahead of the meeting, British foreign

minister Dominic Raab also said he wanted to "build on the momentum of the positive G7 talks on Iran".

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