French foreign minister says Iran deal can still work

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif hailed as "very good and constructive" the meeting he had on May 15 in Brussels with the European Union's foreign policy chief, Federica Mogherini.

Iran's foreign minister has held talks in China as he began a diplomatic tour with the remaining signatories of a multinational nuclear deal following the recent United States withdrawal from the landmark 2015 pact.

Zarif told the media after the meeting that he believed both sides were "on the right track" to ensure that the interests of the JCPOA's "remaining participants, particularly Iran, will be preserved and guaranteed".

After the Chinese capital, where Zarif arrived yesterday, the Iranian Foreign Minister must visit Moscow and then Brussels, where he will meet with the foreign ministers of France, Germany and the UK.

Upon arrival Araqchi held talks with Helga Schmid, secretary-general of the European External Action Service.

Zarif arrived in Brussels from Russian Federation, where he and Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov agreed to remain in "close contact" over the deal.

It reiterated that Iran was preparing to resume "industrial-scale" uranium enrichment "without any restrictions" unless Europe provided solid guarantees that it could maintain trade ties despite renewed U.S. sanctions.

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"It is a trade-off and a sensible trade-off and... it is the only really workable way we can see to stop Iran getting a nuclear weapon".

Analysts have suggested Russian Federation could benefit economically from the USA pull-out, as it is less exposed to the consequences of renewed sanctions than Europe.

"It is going to be very hard for us to preserve the economic benefits of the Iran deal", said a second senior European diplomat said.

German Deputy Foreign Minister Michael Roth on Monday said that it would be "necessary" to discuss the proposed 45-60 day deadline Iran has given Europe to provide "guarantees" to safeguard Iran's interests after the US' withdrawal from a nuclear accord reached in 2015. He had earlier talked of just two weeks.

"We started our work to get assurances from Europe".

Germany's Merkel is set to visit Russian Federation and meet Putin for a working visit in the Black Sea resort of Sochi on Friday, while French President Emmanuel Macron will be in Saint Petersburg later in the month for an economic forum.

After long negotiations, Iran had agreed in July 2015 to freeze its nuclear programme in return for the lifting of punishing global sanctions. It's unclear how well the measure could be enforced, given that big multinationals are likely to be doing more business in the USA than they are in Iran and may be unwilling to compromise that market access.

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