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French FM criticizes US for putting pressure on EU to change Iran deal

The French foreign minister has criticized the US for exerting pressure on European countries to change the terms of the 2015 nuclear deal with Iran, saying Washington knows when an agreement is inked, all parties must honor their end of the bargain.

“There is a basic principle on which we are very firm, it’s the upholding of the (nuclear deal) to the extent it is respected,” Jean-Yves Le Drian said ahead of a meeting with US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson in Paris on Tuesday.

The top French diplomat also noted that the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), the the United Nations nuclear watchdog, has verified Iranian compliance with the agreement and thus there was no source of worry.

“If it is respected by Iran — which is what the IAEA says, and we don’t have any reason not to believe it – the signatories must stand by their word,” he said. “Because when an agreement is signed, each signatory must respect it. He (Tillerson) knows it.”

Earlier this month, US President Donald Trump extended waivers of key economic sanctions on Iran, lifted under the nuclear deal, for another 120 days but said he was doing so “for the last time.”

He also called on European allies and the US Congress to work with him to “fix the disastrous flaws” in the pact, officially called the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), or face a US exit.

Elsewhere in his comments, Le Drian questioned why the Trump administration is “kicking the ball back to Congress and the Europeans,” when Russia and China are also parties to the deal.

Tillerson has travelled to Europe in an attempt to seek support for the US resident’s hostile stance on the JCPOA.

On Monday, the US secretary of state met with British Prime Minister Theresa May, Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson and National Security Adviser Mark Sedwill.

After the meetings, Tillerson said that they had agreed to set up a working group of experts on fixing flaws in the Iran deal.

The group will soon begin to develop a “side agreement” to the JCPOA aimed at easing President Trump’s complaints about the agreement, he told reporters in London.

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