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Europe's failure to save Iran deal will have 'deplorable' results: Putin

Russian President Vladimir Putin (R) shakes hands with his French counterpart Emmanuel Macron at the end of a joint press conference following their talks at the Konstantin Palace in Strelna, outside Saint Petersburg, May 24, 2018. (Photo by AFP)

Russian President Vladimir Putin has welcomed efforts by his French counterpart Emmanuel Macron and other European signatories of the 2015 Iran nuclear deal to preserve it, warning that their failure will spell "deplorable" consequences for the world.

Putin and Macron met at St. Petersburg’s Constantine Palace on Thursday to discuss Europe's possible options to salvage the landmark accord after US President Donald Trump's pullout earlier this month.

"Our position - the position of Russia - is well known. We believe the deal must be preserved," Putin told reporters of the Joint Comprehensive Plan Of Action (JCPOA), signed between Iran and six major world powers-- the US, the UK, France, China, Russia and Germany.

"We welcome the intention of not only France, but of the whole united Europe, to keep this deal. We understand that it won’t be easy to do so," the Russian head of state added.

Upon announcing his decision, Trump said he would reinstate all nuclear-related sanctions that were lifted under the deal after Iran agreed to limit its peaceful nuclear program voluntarily.

Trump also signed a presidential memorandum to impose the “highest level of sanctions” against Iran and said the US would punish companies and countries that violate those sanctions.

The move puts in danger numerous European countries that have entered the profitable Iranian markets since the deal's implementation in January 2016.

Agreeing with Putin on the need to preserve the JCPOA, Macron stressed that France and other European countries should be given an opportunity to "keep their economic profit, despite the US sanctions, and maintain their economic presence in Iran."

One way for Europeans to do that was to seek more economic freedom from the US, according to the French president who is on a two-day trip to Russia.

"Europe should have a stronger economic sovereignty," Macron said. "France envisages a compensation for French companies acting within the framework of treaties signed by France. Other mechanisms to protect the interests of companies are being discussed."

Putin said he opposed all kinds of unilateral sanctions and viewed them as illegitimate and detrimental to the global economy.

Chinese, German leaders resolved to keep Iran deal

In Beijing, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Chinese Premier Li Keqiang defended the Iran nuclear deal, with Li hinting a collapse of the pact would complicate nuclear disarmament negotiations with North Korea. 

Li warned that abandoning the deal with Tehran "will not just impact Iran, but also have a negative impact on (the ability) to solve other hot international issues through peaceful negotiations." 

The German leader also sounded the alarm about the economic impact of the move on Europe. 

If European companies pull out or shrink operations in Iran to avoid falling foul of US law, it would "create an opportunity for businesses in other countries to step in and play a greater role," Merkel said. 

As two signatories of the deal, China and Germany have openly expressed their disappointment with Trump's decision and plan to safeguard the agreement regardless.

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