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Germany, Russian Foreign Ministers Call for Iran Deal to Be Upheld

Heiko Maas and Sergei Lavrov / Russian Foreign Ministry

The foreign ministers of Germany and Russia said on Thursday they were working to preserve the Iran nuclear deal after U.S. President Donald Trump announced Washington would leave it and ordered sanctions reimposed on Tehran.

German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas said it was crucial Iran sticks to its obligations under the international 2015 deal despite Trump promising to impose new sanctions on Tehran. Moscow, he said, could use its influence on Tehran to that end.

"It is necessary that Iran stays in the agreement. It is in Iran's interest, too, to keep the agreement alive," Maas said after meeting Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov in Moscow.

President Donald Trump pulled the United States out of the deal on Tuesday, saying it was deeply flawed, a stance at odds with major U.S. allies and Russia and China. Under the accord, reached before Trump took office, Iran curbed its nuclear fuel production drive and won sanctions relief in return.

Maas said Germany was seeking more details from the United States about fresh sanctions Washington was considering.

The White House said on Wednesday that Trump was preparing to impose new sanctions on Tehran, perhaps as early as next week, but gave no details.

"It is important to learn about the rules concerning the so called secondary effects, that is, what does it mean for a European company's America business if it continues to do business with Iran," Maas said.

Lavrov said it was crucial that any new U.S. sanctions on Iran did not scuttle the hard-won deal, officially known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action.

"Without doubt we will make sure firstly that this does not destroy the JCPOA. This is our common objective, we confirmed this," Lavrov said at a joint conference with Maas.

Lavrov said Moscow had urged Iran and its arch-enemy Israel to avoid acts that could lead to a spiral of Middle East conflict in the wake of Trump's announcement.

Iranian forces in Syria fired rockets at Israeli army bases in the Golan Heights early on Thursday, Israel said, prompting one of the heaviest Israeli barrages against Syria since the conflict there began in 2011.

Lavrov said President Vladimir Putin had raised the issue with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who was in Moscow on Wednesday to attend a military parade commemorating the Soviet victory in World War Two over Nazi Germany.

Maas said attacks by Iranian forces were a provocation and that Israel had the right to self-defense. 

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