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Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 18 June 2018

France, Germany and UK to meet Iran on nuclear deal

Trump's decision was 'an error', said France's economy minister

French Economy Minister Bruno Le Maire speaks at a press conference at the National Palace of Culture in Sofia on April 28, 2018. AFP
French Economy Minister Bruno Le Maire speaks at a press conference at the National Palace of Culture in Sofia on April 28, 2018. AFP

The foreign ministers of France, Britain and Germany will meet Iranian representatives next week, Paris said on Wednesday after President Donald Trump pulled the United States out of a landmark nuclear deal with Tehran.

"We will meet with my British and German colleagues on Monday, and also with representatives of Iran, to consider the entire situation," French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian told RTL radio.

French Economy Minister Bruno Le Maire said separately on France Culture radio that the decision was "an error" not just for international security but from an economic point of view.

It was "not acceptable" for the US to be the "economic policeman of the planet", he said.

Mr Trump defied European pleas to stay in the pact, which curbs Iran's nuclear programme, and reimposed crippling sanctions which will come into effect within six months.

The decision marked a stark diplomatic defeat for Europe, whose leaders, repeatedly and in person, had begged Mr Trump to think again.

Read more: Trump doesn't have 'mental capacity' to deal with issues, Iran says

Mr Le Maire pointed out that the withdrawal gives European firms doing business in Iran the "very short time of six months" to wind up investments — or risk US sanctions.

"In two years, France has tripled its trade surplus with Iran," he said.

Mr Le Maire said this would lead to "consequences" for major French companies, such as Total, Sanofi, Renault and Peugeot.

He said he would have speak with US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin by the end of the week to "explore what the possibilities are" to avoid the sanctions, including possible exemptions.

While countries, such as Israel and Saudi Arabia, welcomed Mr Trump's decision, other signatories to the existing deal — Russia, China and the European Union — vowed to stick by it.

Iran's President Hassan Rouhani accused Mr Trump of "psychological warfare" and said Iran could resume uranium enrichment "without limit" but that it would discuss its response with other parties to the deal before announcing a decision.