Pompeo meets EU's top diplomat after
Pence's Iran accusations
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[February 15, 2019]
By Lesley Wroughton
BRUSSELS (Reuters) - U.S. Secretary of
State Mike Pompeo met with the EU's top diplomat in Brussels on Friday,
a day after Vice President Mike Pence accused America's traditional
European allies of trying to undermine U.S. sanctions against Iran.
The meeting with Federica Mogherini, the EU's foreign policy chief, was
scheduled before Pence's rebuke of European powers during a Middle East
peace conference in Warsaw on Thursday, which Mogherini missed, citing a
scheduling conflict at NATO.
Mogherini, who helped seal the 2005 nuclear deal between Iran and world
powers, greeted Pompeo in front of a bank of cameras at the EU's
headquarters in Brussels before they headed into a conference room for
the breakfast meeting, which was scheduled to last about an hour.
Mogherini shook her head and waved off a question from the media about
what she thought of Pence's speech in Warsaw on Thursday, where he
accused the European Union of trying to break the impact of U.S.
economic sanctions on Iran.
Pence's unusually tough words for allies Germany, France and Britain
reflect Washington's strategy to try to isolate Iran, in remarks that
were likely to further strain transatlantic relations.
Trump last year pulled the United States out of the 2015 Iran deal,
under which Tehran agreed to curbs on its nuclear program in return for
the lifting of sanctions.
On Thursday, speaking at NATO before Pence's comments, Mogherini said
the United States and the European Union had "different views" on the
Iran nuclear deal and said upholding it was critical to European
security because it prevented Tehran from developing a nuclear weapon.
[to top of second column]
U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo poses with European Union
foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini in Brussels, Belgium
February 15, 2019. Olivier Hoslet/Pool via REUTERS
European countries say they share Washington's concerns about Iran's
involvement in wars in Yemen and Syria but believe withdrawing from
the nuclear deal was a mistake, and have promised to try to salvage
the deal as long as Iran continues to abide by it. In practice,
European companies have accepted new U.S. sanctions on Iran and
abandoned plans to invest there.
France, Germany and Britain agreed in January to open a new channel
for non-dollar trade with Iran to avert U.S. sanctions, through a
Special Purpose Vehicle (SPV) meant to help match Iranian oil and
gas exports against purchases of EU goods.
However, the trade vehicle will likely take months to become
operational and diplomats said it will be used only for smaller
trade, for example of humanitarian products or food.
(This version of the story replaces Pence with Pompeo in third
(Reporting by Lesley Wroughton; additional reporting by Francesco
Guarascio; editing by Robin Emmott)
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