European Union to Trump: Stop threatening us with tariffs

President Donald Trump joined by NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg left and Vice President Mike Pence right speaks during an expanded bilateral meeting in the Cabinet Room of the White House in Washington Thursday

Last week, Le Maire had told French radio he had asked United States Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin for temporary or permanent exemptions for French companies operating in Iran, which include PSA, drug giant Sanofi and food group Danone among those affected - in addition to Renault and oil major Total. But he made clear bigger matters were at stake.

Leaders from several European Union countries said Thursday they're ready to negotiate with Washington on opening up their markets to more US exports in exchange for a blanket exemption on industrial tariffs. "We're not going to take counter-sanctions against USA companies, it wouldn't make sense". Tehran had repeatedly hailed the project as a symbol of the nuclear accord's success. "We have opted to support it whatever the U.S. decides to do", said the French president on arrival at the Sofia summit. "My priority is not trade or finance in Iran".

It's been a week since President Donald Trump announced that he would withdraw from the Iranian nuclear deal reached in 2015 and impose so-called powerful economic sanctions against the Islamic Republic over its nuclear development.

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

However, the U.S.is firing back at European Union resistance.

EU discussions on how to keep the deal - and economic relations with Iran - alive, have focused on: keeping Iran's oil and gas industry viable; the creation of special goal vehicles to allow for transactions between the regions; developing more contracts between European companies and their Iranian counterparts; and how to protect European firms that continue to work with Iran.

More news: US Air Force apologizes for 'Yanny or Laurel' Afghan war tweet

This comes amid the 90-day and 180-day wind-down periods set by Trump for necessary measures to be taken by the USA department to re-effectuate the sanctions on Iran, and thus accordingly for European companies to halt business deals in the targeted country. Soren Skou, chief executive of Danish-based A.P. Moller-Maersk, said his firm would have to accept the sanctions.

Macron said the US decision to exit the deal would benefit Russian and Chinese companies doing business with Iran at the expense of Western firms, but he insisted France's priority is to preserve peace and stability in the region. "I don't know the exact timing details, but I am certain that we're also going to shut down".

US sanctions on Iran block American firms from doing business in the country, but even more controversial, it also prohibits foreign companies that do business there from accessing the entire USA banking and financial system.

French oil and gas giant Total has chose to cancel a multi-billion-dollar project in Iran unless it is granted a waiver by USA authorities.

Pergas seems to do little business in the USA, potentially giving it more freedom to operate in Iran.

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani has said Tehran would remain committed to the deal, which China, Russia, Britain, France and Germany also signed, provided those powers ensured Iran was protected from sanctions.

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