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World

AFP
July 17, 2018

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US rejects European call for Iran sanctions waiver

PARIS: Washington will not budge on its decision to impose fresh sanctions on corporations operating in Iran, despite a European request for exemption, the Financial Times reported Monday.

“International companies active in Iran face the threat of US sanctions within weeks after Washington rebuffed a high-level European plea to exempt crucial industries to help keep a landmark nuclear deal with Tehran alive,” the paper reported. In a formal letter, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin refused to grant the European powers the waiver they had asked for, the Financial Times reported Monday, citing diplomats.

French Economy Minister Bruno Le Maire had already said the United States would not grant Europe its request.“I wrote in the springtime to Steve Mnuchin ... to ask him for an exemption for European companies legally working in Iran,” Le Maire said according to an interview with French newspaper Le Figaro that was published Friday.

Failing an outright exemption, Le Maire had also asked for more time before the sanctions regime was due to kick in. “We have just received the answer, and it’s negative,” he said.Washington’s refusal came as Trump called Europe a foe in trade and renewed accusations that the EU was taking advantage of the United States.

Analysts say European firms which have rushed to invest in Iran after the lifting of sanctions over the past three years have the most to lose from the renewed sanctions.

EU urges Trump to protect world order, dismisses foe claim: EU leaders and top diplomats urged US President Donald Trump to protect the world order at his summit on Monday with Vladimir Putin and dismissed his assertion that Europe was a US trade foe. Trump triggered fresh concerns from European Council President Donald Tusk at an EU-China summit in Beijing, and from EU foreign ministers in Brussels, one of whom urged the US president to stand up for non-EU Ukraine and Georgia against Russia.

Trump said the European Union was a foe in trade while also calling Russia and China foes in some respects, before his summit with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Helsinki.

“America and the EU are best friends. Whoever says we are foes is spreading fake news,” Tusk tweeted late Sunday from Beijing, without naming Trump directly. Trump often uses the term “fake news” when he disagrees with news reports. “Europe and China, America and Russia, today in Beijing and in Helsinki, are jointly responsible for improving the world order, not for destroying it,” Tusk said in a separate tweet. “I hope this message reaches Helsinki,” the former Polish premier added.

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