BRUSSELS, Belgium — The EU has called Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif to talks in Brussels on Thursday with his French, British and German counterparts in efforts to preserve the hard-fought deal to curb Tehran’s nuclear ambitions.
The meeting between Zarif and the three European parties to the landmark 2015 agreement comes after Iran warned the world on Monday to prepare for the withdrawal of the United States.
Thursday’s meeting comes against a backdrop of high political tension in Iran following recent protests which claimed 21 lives, though Zarif has dismissed the idea the unrest would be on the agenda.
Iran signed the accord with six world powers, agreeing to curb its nuclear program in exchange for the lifting of many international sanctions, but US President Donald Trump has condemned the deal and threatened to pull out.
“The EU High Representative Federica Mogherini will convene a meeting with ministers of foreign affairs of E3 countries — France, Jean-Yves Le Drian, Germany, Sigmar Gabriel, and the UK Boris Johnson — and Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif on Thursday 11 January in Brussels,” the 28-member bloc said in a statement.
“The meeting will take place in the context of the ongoing work to ensure a full and continued implementation of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action,” the statement added, using the official name for the deal.
The EU, which played an important role in brokering the Iran nuclear deal, has been lobbying US lawmakers not to pull out and so far Trump has continued to waive nuclear-related sanctions at regular intervals as required under the agreement.
On Sunday, German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel said the talks would also address recent protests in Iran over economic hardships.