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Iranian Foreign Minister In Moscow To Meet Lavrov On Nuclear Deal

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif will meet in Moscow with his Russian counterpart on May 14. (file photo)

After holding talks in China, Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif will meet on May 14 in Moscow with Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov as part of efforts to save the landmark nuclear deal Tehran signed with six world powers.

The visit will be the second stop on a tour of key capitals as Iran deals with the fallout from U.S. President Donald Trump’s decision to pull out of the 2015 accord, which provides Tehran with relief from sanctions in return for curbs on its nuclear program.

After Moscow, Zarif will travel to Brussels to meet with EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini, who is scheduled to host a meeting of German, French, and British foreign ministers on May 15 to discuss the accord.

Russia, China, Britain, Germany, and France also signed the accord and had urged Washington to remain a part of the deal, saying it was the best way to prevent Iran from developing nuclear weapons.

Trump pulled out on May 8, claiming that Iran had violated the "spirit" of the deal by financing militant violence in the Middle East and by continuing to test ballistic missiles.

Iran denies financing extremist violence and says its nuclear program is strictly for civilian purposes.

On May 13 in Beijing, Zarif expressed hope for a "clear future design" for the accord.

"We hope that with this visit to China and other countries we will be able to construct a clear future design for the comprehensive agreement," Zarif told reporters after talks with his Chinese counterpart, Wang Yi.

"If the nuclear deal is to continue, the interests of the people of Iran must be assured," Zarif added.

Iranian President Hassan Rohani said on May 13 that the U.S. exit from the deal could represent an end of diplomacy as a solution to global political differences.

"The U.S. withdrawal from an international deal is also a violation of political ethics and signals the end of diplomatic solutions," Rohani said.

'Malign Behavior'

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo told Fox News on May 13 that Washington was ready to form a more wide-ranging Iran deal with its European partners.

He said he had been told by Trump "to work to strike a deal that achieves the outcomes that protect America."

"That's what we are going to do, and I will be hard at it with the Europeans in the next several days," he said.

"I'm hopeful in the days and weeks ahead we can come up with a deal that really works, that really protects the world from Iranian bad behavior, not just their nuclear program, but their missiles and their malign behavior as well," Pompeo added.

Meanwhile, the Iranian parliament's website quoted an Iranian official as imposing a deadline for European countries to guarantee Iran's interests in the wake of the U.S. withdrawal from the nuclear deal.

"The Europeans have between 45 and 60 days to give the necessary guarantees to safeguard Iranian interests and compensate the damages caused by the U.S. pullout," said, attributing the remarks to Deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Araghchi.

The German dpa news agency, citing sources, reported that the European signees have asked for 90 days.

With reporting by dpa and AFP