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Iran, Russia to continue cooperating on JCPOA even after US exit from deal: Moscow

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov

Russia's deputy foreign minister says Moscow and Tehran will continue to cooperate on the Iran nuclear agreement, known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), even after US President Donald Trump unilaterally decided to pull his country out of the landmark and hard-fought accord.

Sergei Ryabkov made the comment during a meeting with his Iranian counterpart Abbas Araqchi in the Iranian capital Tehran on Thursday, the Russian Foreign Ministry said in a statement, adding that the two sides “agreed to continue close coordination in this area.”

“The Russian side highlighted its commitment to preserving the agreement,” the statement further said.

Ryabkov’s comments came two days after Trump declared that his country was pulling out of the JCPOA, saying Washington would not only reinstate the anti-Iran sanctions lifted as part of the deal, but would also “be instituting the highest level of economic” bans against the Islamic Republic.

The JCPOA came out of years of negotiations between Iran on one side and the P5+1 group of countries -- the US, UK, France, Russia and China plus Germany -- on the other, in July 2015.

A day after Trump’s controversial decision, which triggered international condemnations, Russian President Vladimir Putin voiced his “deep concern” over his American counterpart’s withdrawal from the accord.

Washington’s five other partners in the deal have already taken turns to denounce Trump’s attack on the multilateral Iran deal, vowing that they would stick to their commitments under the accord despite the US withdrawal.

Furthermore, the United Nations and the European Union have also warned Washington against any bid to sabotage the deal. They call the JCPOA a pillar of regional and international peace and stability, and reiterate the multilateral pact cannot be simply terminated by a single party.

Earlier in the day, Ryabkov had said that Moscow’s “European partners” should also work to keep the deal together.

Additionally on Thursday, Russia's Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov also strongly urged the countries that oversaw the accord to “develop steps that would preserve this document that is important for regional stability.”

The top Russian diplomat, who was speaking in a joint press conference with his German counterpart Heiko Mass in Moscow, further said, "We agree to make the appropriate contacts with our German colleagues.”

Iran has already said it would remain in the JCPOA for now, pending negotiations with the other signatories in the coming weeks before making a final decision on its future role in the pact. Tehran had earlier warned that it has prepared several options for responding to US withdrawal.

In a phone conversation with his Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Thursday, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said that the Europeans and the five other signatories “should now work to decide and transparently announce the measures they plan to take in order to make up for the US exit from the JCPOA.”

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