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Iran's Rohani Due In Switzerland, Austria Amid Nuclear-Deal Dispute


Iranian President Hassan Rohani (file photo)

Iranian President Hassan Rohani is traveling to Western Europe this week, amid continued uncertainty over the future of the 2015 nuclear agreement between Tehran and world powers.

Rohani's trip to Switzerland and Austria, which took over the rotating European Union presidency on July 1, is part of a diplomatic effort by Tehran to rally support in the wake of the Unites States' withdrawal from the nuclear deal.

Before leaving Tehran for his European tour, Rohani said on July 2 that he expected European states to unveil "in coming days" a package of measures aimed at preserving the accord, according to the state-run Mehr news agency.

President Donald Trump pulled the United States out of the accord in May and moved to reinstate economic sanctions against Tehran. U.S. officials also warned that other nations would face sanctions unless they stopped doing business with Iran.

The other parties to the agreement -- Britain, France, Russia, China, and Germany -- say they remain committed to the deal so long as Iran is honoring it.

Rohani was scheduled to stay in Switzerland on July 2-3 and have talks with President Alain Berset and other officials, the Swiss government has said.

The sides will look at "ways of preserving the progress made as a result of the [Iran nuclear] agreement and of ensuring the non-proliferation of nuclear weapons in the region," a statement said.

It added that the discussions will also touch upon the situation in the Middle East.

Both the United States and Saudi Arabia have tasked the neutral European country with representing their interests in Tehran.

On July 4, Rohani is to meet with his Austrian counterpart, President Alexander Van der Bellen, and Chancellor Sebastian Kurz in Vienna.

Kurz told Austrian news agency APA he will speak plainly with Rohani about Iran's role in the Middle East, amid Western accusations that Tehran is destabilizing the region.

He said he will also find "clear words" to discuss the human rights situation in Iran.

The Austrian capital is home of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), the UN body that monitors Iran's compliance with the nuclear deal.

It also played host to the negotiations that led to the signing in July 2015 of the deal aimed at preventing Iran from building an atomic bomb. Tehran insists its nuclear program is for civilian use.

While in Bern and Vienna, Iranian officials were due to sign agreements on economic cooperation, according to Austrian and Iranian media.

The Iranian president will be accompanied by Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif.

Rohani's planned trip comes as demonstrators protesting against shortages of drinking water in southwestern Iran clashed with police for a second night. Demonstrations have been held recently in Tehran over the country's troubled economy.

With reporting by dpa
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