European Union moves to safeguard interests in Iran after threat of United States sanctions

French Foreign Affairs Minister Jean Yves Le Drian leaves the Elysee Presidential palace in Paris

"One thing is clear: the United States, having withdrawn from the Joint Comprehensive Action Plan has lost all its rights with respect to this document, because there are a number of provisions that grant participants certain rights", Lavrov said.

"We will look at potential options for supporting continued sanctions relief for Iran to ensure we meet our commitments under the deal, as well as calling on Iran to continue to abide by the restrictions the deal places upon their nuclear program", he said.

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 the deal's "remaining participants, particularly Iran, will be preserved and guaranteed".

But last week US President Donald Trump announced he was leaving the deal and reimposing sanctions.

Zarif later told a joint news conference with Lavrov that "the final aim of these negotiations is to seek assurances that the interests of the Iranian nation will be safeguarded".

Meanwhile, the European Union's High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, Federica Mogherini, met with Iran's Foreign Minister Javad Zarif on Tuesday, and the EU said that "The European Union is committed to the continued full and effective implementation of all parts of the Iran nuclear deal".

The deal's proponents say it is crucial to forestalling a nuclear Iran and preventing wider war in the Middle East.

Trump's newly-named National Security Adviser John Bolton said that it is "possible" that the U.S. would sanction European companies that maintain business dealings with Iran, a statement that received a lukewarm reaction from Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, who said he remained hopeful that Washington and its allies European could strike a new deal with the Iranian government.

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French diplomats said they also wanted to assess Iran's intentions in sticking to the deal, but also to see how open it was to serious talks on other Western concerns.

The EU's energy commissioner is also traveling this week to Iran to discuss strengthening European energy support to Iran.

Describing the deal as "hard-earned", Mr Yi added: "I hope and believe that these visits to multiple countries will help protect Iran's legitimate national interests and peace and stability in the region".

Senior EU politicians recently threatened that the 28-nation bloc is ready to challenge any move that may harm their businesses in the Iranian market at the World Trade Organization (WTO).

They include retaliatory sanctions, allowing the European Investment Bank to invest directly in Iran and co-ordinating euro-denominated credit lines from European governments.

Although the sanctions affect only US companies, the Trump administration is putting pressure on European allies to impose their own sanctions.

This article has been adapted from its original source.

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