European Union plans to ditch dollar for Iran oil payments

Iran`s foreign minister Mohammad Javad Zarif second from left meets with his French German and British counterparts and EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini left in Brussels

Iran`s foreign minister Mohammad Javad Zarif second from left meets with his French German and British counterparts and EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini left in Brussels

Several Irish firms began trading with Iran, the Middle East's second-largest economy, in the wake of the 2015 deal to control Tehran's nuclear ambitions, which led to the lifting of long-standing global sanctions and the resumption of formal trade ties with several European countries.

"It was a good and constructive meeting", he said, adding that "we are on the right track.to make sure that the interests of the remaining signatories of the JCPOA, especially Iran, will be guaranteed".

Iran wants assurances that European Union trade with Iran will continue to grow, despite Donald Trump pulling the USA out of the nuclear deal.

"The lifting of nuclear-related sanctions and the normalization of trade and economic relations with Iran constitute essential parts of the agreement", she said, "and we agreed to this end to deepen our dialogue at all levels".

Mogherini said it had been a "very productive" meeting but indicated it was the start of a long road.

After an hour-long meeting at European Union headquarters in Brussels, Zarif said he believed both sides were "on the right track" to make sure that the interests of Iran and the non-U.S. partners "will be preserved and guaranteed".

Asked whether the United States might impose sanctions on European companies that continue to do business with Iran, Bolton told CNN: "It's possible".

On Wednesday, the European Commission will meanwhile discuss the EU's 1990s-era blocking sanctions, Mogherini said.

Iran Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said he hoped for a "clear future design" of the deal as he began a series of diplomatic tours aimed at rescuing the agreement.

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Earlier he met China's Foreign Minister Wang Yi and stressed on the importance of keeping the 2015 accord, which aims at halting Iran's nuclear activities and stimulate the country's economy.

Zarif said the latest United States decision was "illegal".

After long negotiations, Iran agreed in July 2015 to freeze its nuclear program in return for the repeal of punishing worldwide sanctions.

On Sunday US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Washington still wants to work with Europe to counter Iran's "malign behavior".

British, French and German foreign ministers, along with the EU's top diplomat, discussed the next steps with their Iranian counterpart, a week after US President Donald Trump abandoned the pact he branded "the worst deal ever" and reimposed US sanctions on Iran. Following Trump's decision, the Treasury Department's Office of Foreign Assets Control sanctioned nine Iranian individuals and entities including those with links to Iran's Revolutionary Guard.

European Union leaders at a summit in Sofia are expected to discuss measures that the bloc might take to shield European companies from renewed US sanctions on Iran.

In the CNN interview, Bolton did not respond directly when asked whether Trump might seek "regime change" in Iran, or whether the USA military would be ordered to make a pre-emptive strike against any Iranian nuclear facility.

The EU is also looking at how it could develop special financing vehicles for doing business with Iran.

German exports to Iran totalled almost 3 billion euros in 2017, while French exports soared from 562 million euros in 2015 to 1.5 billion in 2017 and oil giant Total has pledged to invest some $5 billion in the South Pars gas field.

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