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The president of the European Council, Donald Tusk, announced that during the informal summit of the EU on the Balkans that will be held on May 17 in Sofia, Bulgaria, it is expected to agree on a common response of the 28 member states of the regional bloc on the JCPOA against the withdrawal of the United States from the agreement.

Trump's decision to abandon the 2015 nuclear accord risks exposing European countries that have since invested in Iran to renewed USA sanctions, after "wind-down" periods of three to six months expire.

The 28 European Union leaders meeting in Sofia did not make any quick decisions on how to try to shield their economic cooperation with Iran.

But the reach of the USA financial system, the dominance of the dollar and the presence of European companies' operations in the United States all weaken any potential EU measures.

Mogherini said "expert talks" on relevant financial and economic issues such as banking transactions and oil would begin soon and the deputy foreign ministers from the three European nations and Iran would meet in Vienna next week.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel has acknowledged that the Iran nuclear deal "certainly has weaknesses" but says it should be preserved. French energy company Total has joined several European companies saying they might end operations in Iran.

"I would like our debate to reconfirm without any doubt that as long as Iran respects the provisions of the deal, the European Union will also respect it", Tusk said in a letter to the leaders on the eve of the summit.

The Iranian administration seeks to remain committed to the nuclear deal to draw investment from Europe.

Tusk's unusually biting criticism of Trump on Wednesday highlighted the deep trans-Atlantic split: "Looking at the latest decisions of President Trump, someone could even think: With friends like that, who needs enemies?"

"It's not right to cancel this agreement in this situation now", she said.

Iranian foreign minister Mohammad Javad Zarif met EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini and his counterparts from Britain, France and Germany-the three European signatories to pact-in Brussels on the last leg of a whirlwind diplomatic tour that also took in Russian Federation and China, the two other signatory nations. The meeting is due on May 25. These include protecting European companies dealing with Iran from US sanctions, which in practice would be very hard, allowing the European Investment Bank to invest there and coordinating euro-denominated credit lines from EU states.

Zarif said little to reporters Tuesday but suggested he wanted to discuss the deaths of dozens of Palestinians in Gaza as well as the nuclear deal, which U.S. President Donald Trump withdrew from last week.

European firms, especially those from France and Germany, rushed to invest in Iran following the 2015 accord, under which Tehran agreed to freeze its nuclear programme in return for an end to punishing worldwide sanctions.


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