European Union countries agree Iran deal 'not perfect': German Chancellor Angela Merkel

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Germany has joined its European allies in reaffirming support for the Iran nuclear deal in defiance of the U.S. that pulled out of the landmark agreement last week.

US President Donald Trump announced on May 8 that Washington was walking away from the JCPOA, which was reached between Iran and the five permanent members of the UN Security Council - the US, Britain, France, Russia and China - plus Germany in 2015.

"We, together, regretted the withdrawal of the USA from the Iran nuclear deal, and we recognized that the lifting of nuclear-related sanctions and the normalization of trade and economic relations with Iran constitute essential parts of the agreement", she said. The country has boosted its oil production almost 1 million bpd since the nuclear deal lifted Western sanctions in January 2016.

"We will be looking at a package of measures that we may be able to devise as Europeans to encourage the Iranians to stay in the deal", he told reporters.

The US has said it will progressively reintroduce the main sanctions against Iran, starting with the automobile and civil aviation sectors on 6 August. "And we agreed to continue to consult intensively at all levels and also with other remaining participants to the joint commission to the JCPOA".

"If we want to save this deal, which is not an easy exercise, we know that the sooner we do it then the easier it will be", Mogherini said after meeting the foreign ministers of the U.K., France, Germany and Iran in Brussels. "We're not naive and know it will be hard for all sides". On Wednesday night European Union leaders are meeting in Sofia, Bulgaria and the Iranian deal will be at the top of their agenda.

But preserving or increasing European investment in Iran in the face of the American sanctions is a hard challenge - especially since the White House has made clear to Europeans that their companies will not get exemptions from the sanctions, which Washington hopes will pressure Iran into a new set of negotiations.

Russian President Vladimir Putin will also host Merkel on Friday to discuss, among other issues, the Iran deal.