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May 20, 2018 1:35 pm

EU Denies It Is Planning to Offer Financial Aid to Iran to Preserve Nuclear Deal

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Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif talks to the media after a meeting with European Union foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini at the EU Council in Brussels, Belgium, May 15, 2018. Photo: Reuters / Francois Lenoir.

Three European Union sources have denied that diplomats meeting in Vienna on Friday to salvage the imperiled Iranian nuclear deal after Washington withdrew will discuss offering Iran financial aid in exchange for concessions.

A German newspaper reported on Sunday that diplomats from Britain, Germany, France, China, and Russia would meet in the Austrian capital to discuss next steps after the May 8 decision by US President Donald Trump to exit the 2015 nuclear accord.

Welt am Sonntag cited an unnamed senior EU official as saying the diplomats would discuss a proposal for a new pact between Iran and world powers that would be the same as the 2015 deal but with some additions to appease the United States.

These could include provisions to address US concerns over Iran’s ballistic missile program and Tehran’s support of armed groups in the Middle East, the source said.

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“We have to get away from the name ‘Vienna nuclear agreement’ and add in a few additional elements. Only that will convince President Trump to agree and lift sanctions again,” the senior EU official told the paper.

Such an agreement could in the future include financial aid for Iran, the report said.

But three EU sources who were part of negotiations to keep Trump from quitting the nuclear deal told Reuters later on Sunday that this was incorrect.

“The Vienna meeting next Friday will address the implementation issues and details” of the deal, one EU source said. “The meeting will not cover any other issues.”

No immediate comment was available from the German foreign ministry.

In Tehran, Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Bahram Qasemi rejected reports of a proposed new agreement as “irrelevant claims,” the semi-official Tasnim news agency reported.

“A meeting set for the next few days for the first joint commission without the United States … will only cover issues of the nuclear accord between Iran and the other members,” Qasemi said.

Earlier, Iran said it would attend on Friday a meeting of the joint commission set up by the six world powers, Iran, and the European Union to handle any complaints about the deal’s implementation.

“On Friday, the joint commission … will be held at Iran’s request, and without the United States, to discuss the consequences of America’s withdrawal, and how the remaining countries can continue their commitment to the deal,” Deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Araqchi said on state television.

On Monday, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo will outline a “diplomatic roadmap” and call for broad support from European and other allies to apply pressure on Iran to force it back to the negotiating table, as well as their support to address “the totality of Iran’s threats.”

The European Union is not doing enough to preserve the benefits for Iran from the 2015 nuclear pact following the withdrawal of the United States, Iran’s foreign minister told the EU’s energy chief on Sunday.

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