US grants visa to Iran's Zarif for United Nations meeting this week

Iran denies US talks with Russian mediation

The Brussels gathering had been called to flesh out ways of convincing Iran and the United States to reduce tensions and start a dialogue amid fears the 2015 deal is close to collapse.

"We hope and we invite Iran to reverse these steps and go back to full compliance with the agreement", she said.

The top European Union diplomat also said the first transaction as part of the mechanism to facilitate trade with Iran was being processed, adding that eight member states have either joined the trade channel, officially called the Instrument in Support of Trade Exchanges (INSTEX), or have expressed interest to do so.

It comes amid heightened tensions after the United Kingdom seized an Iranian oil tanker. That left Russia, China, France, Britain and Germany as parties to the deal.

"Iran and those who believe in our system will not leave such vicious deeds unanswered".

"The risks are such that it is necessary for all stakeholders to pause, and consider the possible consequences of their actions", the joint statement released by the French president's office said.

It was an apparent reference to American weapons sales to Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Iran's other Arab adversaries.

The EU asked Iran to comply with the 2015 nuclear deal by reversing the breach of nuclear enrichment limit but Iran asked the EU nations to do more.


In return, the other signatories - UK, France, Germany, China and Russian Federation - agreed to lift some of the crippling economic sanctions placed on Iran.

Why is the deal in trouble?

The Islamic Republic's nuclear energy agency said Tehran would return to the situation before the nuclear deal unless European countries fulfilled their obligations.

But the mechanism is complicated, no transactions have been finalised yet and it can for now only be used for humanitarian goods - food and pharmaceuticals, for example - though Mogherini said the shareholding countries were discussing extending it to Iran's crucial oil sector.

U.S. President Donald Trump's administration says it is open to negotiations with Iran on a more far-reaching agreement on nuclear and security issues. Last week it confirmed it will break another of the limits imposed by the deal.

A day after suggestions emerged that Iran's missiles could be negotiable, senior Iranian officials denied the interpretation of words of Iran's foreign minister that Iran might return to the negotiating table, and attacked media reports that had suggested its openness to talks. "It is clear that one of the things he does want is to enjoy a television op with Iran and be seen as striking a new Trump deal".

In a telephone call with Iranian foreign minister Mohammad Javad Zarif on Saturday, Mr Hunt sought to reassure him the vessel was intercepted over suspicions it was carrying oil to Syria - and not because it was Iranian. In apparent retaliation for the seized tanker, Iranian paramilitary vessels tried to impede the passage of a British oil tanker through the Strait of Hormuz, only turning away after receiving "verbal warnings" from a British navy vessel accompanying the ship, the British government said.

Iran denied any attempted seizure, with Mr Zarif quoted as saying the United Kingdom made the claims "for creating tension".

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