US, Iran risk 'accidental' conflict: UK


Pompeo, who had been scheduled to head to Russian Federation, landed in Brussels to discuss pressing issues with European Union diplomats, said a US State Department official.

Iranian leaders announced last week they would scale back their cooperation under the 2015 agreement, forcing Europe to choose between defying Washington or kissing goodbye to the 2015 deal.

European diplomats urged the United States to exercise "maximum restraint" as tensions mount in the Gulf a year after Washington withdrew from a landmark deal that curbed Iran's nuclear programme.

"We are very anxious about the risk of a conflict happening by accident, with an escalation that is unintended really on either side but ends with some kind of conflict", British Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt told reporters in Brussels.

Pompeo will discuss "the full range of bilateral and multilateral challenges" with Putin and Lavrov, said the US State Department last week.

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President Hassan Rouhani issued an ultimatum to the Europeans, threatening that Iran would go further if they fail to deliver sanctions relief to counterbalance US President Donald Trump's renewed assault on the Iranian economy within 60 days.

A State Department official said Pompeo, who will also meet with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov for the second time in as many weeks, would push for progress in particular in one area - arms control.

In a story May 12 about Secretary of State Mike Pompeo meeting with European officials to discuss Iran, The Associated Press reported erroneously that he had canceled a stop in Berlin to fly to Iran.

The nuclear deal was a diplomatic masterpiece orchestrated by Germany, France, the UK, Russia, China, the U.S. under former President Barack Obama's leadership and Iran.

Trump said that Putin had assured him that Russian Federation was not involved in Venezuela - directly contradicting Pompeo and other top officials who for weeks have demanded that Moscow stop backing leftist leader Nicolas Maduro, whom Washington is trying to topple.

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"E3" stands for Germany, France and Britain, which are parties to an global treaty that seeks to lift trade barriers with Iran while preventing the country from developing nuclear weapons. Europe sees it as key to preventing a nuclear-armed Iran, the report said.

Pompeo would reiterate USA concerns about Russia's role in Venezuela and Syria and its breach of the Intermediate-range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty, as well as Russian attempts to meddle in US elections, the official told reporters in a preview of his trip.

The Head of USA diplomacy will also be welcomed in the southern Russian resort by President Vladimir Putin, the Vice Minister stated.

The decision to reduce commitments to the JCPOA comes as Washington is ramping up pressure against Iran, by re-imposing new sanctions, including restrictions on Iran's low-level uranium enrichment and metal industry, and ending the sanctions waivers for Iran's major oil clients in an attempt to drive the country's oil exports to zero.

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