Pompeo Scraps Moscow Stop to Talk Iran With European Allies

(Bloomberg) -- U.S. Secretary of State Michael Pompeo makes a surprise visit to Brussels on Monday just as European Union foreign ministers are meeting to discuss ways to salvage the landmark Iran nuclear accord that Washington has abandoned.

Pompeo scrapped plans for a brief trip to Moscow and will land in the Belgian capital as his 28 EU counterparts gather. President Donald Trump’s top envoy plans to meet with key European allies, though the details are not yet known.

The EU and the British, French and German governments -- the bloc’s three national signatories to the 2015 nuclear agreement -- are struggling to hold it in place after Iran last week gave them a 60-day ultimatum for an economic lifeline. The treaty is at risk of collapsing a year after the U.S. pulled out and piled on fresh sanctions against Iran.

“This agreement is necessary for our security; nobody wants Iran to possess an atomic bomb,” German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas told reporters in Brussels. EU foreign-policy chief Federica Mogherini said plans for meeting Pompeo were still up in the air.

The EU is pressing the Iranian government to abide by the terms of the nuclear agreement, holding out the prospect of further economic relief that has been threatened by the renewed U.S. penalties. At the same time, the bloc is seeking to prevent ties with the Trump administration from deteriorating further.

“We would expect coordinated steps and coordinated thinking in this regard,” Lithuanian Foreign Minister Linas Linkevicius told reporters in Brussels. “Let’s coordinate notes and let’s really look at the issue in a coordinated way.”

Pompeo still plans to meet Russian President Vladimir Putin and his Russian counterpart, Sergei Lavrov, in the Black Sea resort city of Sochi on Tuesday.

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