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EU forms joint team with Iran to maintain oil exports

The European Union says it has formed a joint working committee with Iran to help resolve problems that might affect Iran’s oil exports once the US re-instates its sanctions against the country.

“We will try to find solutions that would enable Iran to maintain its global level of oil exports,” EU energy chief Miguel Arias Canete was quoted by the media in Tehran as saying.

Canete who was talking to reporters after a meeting with Iran’s Oil Minister Bijan Zanganeh emphasized that the EU had sent a ‘special message’ to Iran, emphasizing its willingness to abide by the 2015 nuclear deal signed with the country– officially known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA).

“This requires keeping the economic agreements that were sealed in connection with the JCPOA so that Iran’s oil exports remain at the same levels that existed before the US parted way,” he was quoted as saying by ISNA news agency.

“To the same effect, we plan to start negotiations with the US so that exemptions to certain sanctions are put into place, particularly with regards to trade agreements that were signed when the US was part of the JCPOA.”

Canete emphasized that the EU was looking for ways to protect European enterprises against US sanctions over their trade activities with Iran.

“We are trying to provide the financial infrastructure required for the implementation of EU trade agreements with Tehran,” he emphasized.

“We also want to study all the problems that affect the current flow of Iran’s oil trade. Iran’s oil minister spoke about all problems that we need to resolve which did not only include providing funds but expanded to other issues such as insurance, bunkering of oil, etc.”

Canete said the joint oil trade working committee with Iran was formed to look for solutions to the same problems. He added that the first meeting of the committee was held in Tehran on Saturday in which the agenda and the timetable for future meetings were determined.

“Europe is trying to provide Iran with the necessary guarantees to keep its oil export activities unchanged,” he said.

“On the other hand, the people of Iran should know that they will benefit from the advantages of an international agreement. This agreement is not only essential for preserving the peace and security of the region but is also necessary for Iran’s economy”.

Canete’s visit to Tehran is seen as part of EU’s efforts to save the JCPOA after US President Donald Trump announced earlier this month that he would pull America out of it.

Over the past week, the EU assembled its forces to find ways to maintain business with Iran in the face of upcoming US sanctions.

On Friday, the European Commission announced that it had launched “the blocking statute” process to protect Europeans from US sanctions on Iran. The Commission also unveiled a plan that would envisage direct oil payments to Iran once the US re-imposes the sanctions.

The “blocking statute” is a 1996 regulation originally created to get around Washington’s trade embargo on Cuba.

EU officials said they were revamping the blocking statute to encompass a decision by Trump to revive Iran-related sanctions.