EU Needs Payment System Independent of US to Save Iran Deal: German FM

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“That’s why it is indispensable that we strengthen European autonomy by creating payment channels that are independent of the United States, a European Monetary Fund and an independent SWIFT system,” Maas wrote in the Handelsblatt business daily. “Every day the deal is alive is better than the highly explosive crisis that would otherwise threaten the Middle East,” he added in the article to be published on Wednesday. The Belgium-based SWIFT global payment network that facilitates the bulk of the world’s cross-border transactions shut out Iran in 2012 after the United States and EU agreed to impose sanctions on the Islamic Republic over its nuclear activities. The 2015 agreement between Iran and world powers, officially known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), lifted international sanctions. In return, Iran agreed to restrictions on its nuclear activities, increasing the time it would need to produce an atom bomb if it chose to do so. It has long denied having any such intent. Since the implementation of the nuclear agreement, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) has confirmed Iran’s compliance with its obligations under the JCPOA in several reports. Trump withdrew the United States from the deal - signed before he took office - in May, calling the agreement deeply flawed and imposing new sanctions earlier this month. European powers have been scrambling to ensure Iran gets enough economic benefits to persuade it to stay in the deal. This has proven difficult, with many European firms wary of far-reaching US financial penalties. Iran urged Europe this week to speed up efforts to salvage the nuclear accord after French oil group Total formally pulled out of a major gas project. This week, Iran's Foreign Minister called for Europe's pragmatic steps to save Iran's interests under the 2015 international nuclear deal. "These measures (by Europe) have been an announcement of stances rather than operational measures. Though they (Europeans) have moved forward, we believe that Europe is not still ready to pay the price," Zarif said.

German chancellor says will hold tough talks with Russian president

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"We want good relations with Russia and part of this is of course my meeting tomorrow. It's a work meeting from which no specific results are expected," Merkel said on Friday. She added, "But the number of problems that occupy us - from Ukraine and Syria to the issue of economic cooperation - is so big that it is justified to be in a permanent dialogue." The German chancellor is expected to host the Russian president from 1600 GMT at the government retreat in Meseberg castle north of Berlin, where the two sides plan to only give media statements with no joint press conference. Merkel pointed to "controversial issues" in her Saturday talks with Putin and said, "There will of course be points where we are thinking about how we can promote and improve bilateral and international cooperation." Russia and Western powers have been experiencing increasingly tense relations over a number of issues, including the Ukrainian conflict, Russia's support for Syria, cyber attacks and alleged election meddling in NATO member states. German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier in April expressed support for a series of missile strikes by the US and its Western allies on Syria, a move harshly criticized by Russia, but he warned that the West is going too far in its alienation of Moscow. “The galloping alienation between Russia and the West must also concern us, with consequences that will go far beyond this case. There is practically no basis of trust anymore,” said Steinmeier in an interview, adding, “We are at the next step of escalation in the Russian-American relationship.” The German president, who served for two times as the country’s foreign minister, said it was wrong to introduce Russia and its people as an enemy of Germany, saying the two countries had a rich history of cooperation on key international issues. Despite the deterioration of relations between Moscow and Berlin, the two sides also share common concerns as they both have been targeted by US President Donald Trump in a range of different political and trade disputes. Trump, who is fighting accusations of election collusion with Russia, launched an extraordinary tirade against Germany in July for its support for one of Europe's most contentious energy developments, calling the country “captive of Russians.” The US president said the relationship between Germany and Russia is “inappropriate” and added that a flurry of oil and gas deals had given Moscow far too much influence over Europe’s largest economy. Trump particularly singled out the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline project worth $11 billion which directly connects Germany with Russia. Summit of Germany, Turkey, Russia, France leaders on Syria Elsewhere in her remarks, Merkel confirmed an earlier announcement by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of plans for a summit with the leaders of Russia and France on the Syria crisis, but she said no date had been set yet. Merkel said such a four-way summit "could make sense" and added, "It must be well prepared, that's why no date has been set yet." "But we will arrange for advisors to hold a preparatory meeting and then decide whether it makes sense to hold such a meeting together," the German chancellor pointed out. "I have also discussed Syria during my phone conversation with Mr. Erdogan since we have a very, very tense situation in (the northwestern Syrian province of) Idlib." According to Turkish newspapers, Erdogan said late in July that he was seeking another international summit to discuss the situation in Syria and added that he would be reaching out to his counterparts in Germany, France, and Russia. "We will address regional topics at the four-way meeting in Istanbul," Erdogan said. Mutual ties, commercial projects on agenda of Merkel-Putin talks: Krem
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