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EU Diplomat 'Reassured' About U.S. Commitment To Iran Deal

U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson (right) meets with European Union foreign-policy chief Federica Mogherini at the State Department in Washington, D.C., on February 9.

The European Union's foreign-policy chief says she is optimistic that U.S. President Donald Trump's administration will remain committed to the terms of the Iran nuclear deal following her talks with top officials in Washington.

Federica Mogherini made the comments on February 10 following her meetings at the White House and the State Department, where she said she also discussed Russia with Trump administration officials.

Trump has repeatedly blasted the landmark deal between Iran and world powers that restricts Tehran's nuclear activities in exchange for some sanctions relief.

During his presidential campaign he called it "one of the worst deals we have ever made," but he has sent mixed messages about how he would approach the accord. At times he has said he would "dismantle" it, though he has also said he would "renegotiate" the terms.

Mogherini said discussions on the Iran deal were the main objective of her visit to Washington and that she was pleased with the discussions.

"I was reassured by what I heard in the meetings on the intention to stick to the full implementation of the agreement," Mogherini told reporters on February 10.

In her discussions with Trump administration officials about Russia, the two sides agreed that Moscow should abide by the terms of a 2015 cease-fire deal, known as the Minsk agreement, aimed at ending the fighting between Kyiv's forces and Russia-backed separatists in eastern Ukraine.

More than 9,750 people have died in the conflict since April 2014.

The EU, United States, and other states imposed sanctions on Russia over the conflict, as well as for its annexation of Ukraine's Crimean Peninsula in March 2014.

"We agreed on the need to have full implementation of the Minsk agreement and that sanctions are linked to the full implementation of the agreement," Mogherini said.

Trump's positive words about Russian President Vladimir Putin and his stated desire for better relations with Moscow have triggered concerns among U.S. politicians on both sides of the aisle -- and among U.S. allies in Europe -- about his commitment to supporting Ukraine.

The new U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, Nikki Haley, last week expressed "strong condemnation of Russia's actions" in eastern Ukraine and said that "Crimea-related sanctions will remain in place until Russia returns control of the peninsula to Ukraine."

It was not clear whether Haley was also referring to sanctions imposed on Russia for its backing of separatists in eastern Ukraine.

Asked about sanctions at a February 8 news briefing in Washington, White House spokesman Sean Spicer referred to Haley’s comments.

"With respect to the sanctions that specifically deal with Ukraine and Crimea, I think Ambassador Haley has spoken very, very clearly about that," he said.

With reporting by AP and AFP
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