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Iran FM hopeful of forging 'clear future' for nuclear deal on diplomatic tour

AFP  |  Beijing 

Iran's foreign said today he was hopeful of forging a "clear future design" for the nuclear deal facing collapse after Washington's withdrawal, at the start of a diplomatic tour aimed at rescuing the agreement.

"We hope that with this visit to and other countries we will be able to construct a clear future design for the comprehensive agreement," told reporters after talks in with his Chinese counterpart

Zarif will later fly to and to consult the remaining signatories to the 2015 agreement denounced by US Washington's decision to withdraw from the deal and reimpose sanctions angered its European allies as well as and

was one of the six powers -- with the United States, Russia, France, the UK and -- that signed the historic pact, which saw sanctions lifted in return for the commitment by not to acquire nuclear weapons.

As he arrived in Beijing, Zarif said was "ready for all option(s)", according to the semi-official agency.

"If the nuclear deal is to continue, the interests of the people of must be assured," he added.

After their meeting, Zarif and Wang hailed the "comprehensive strategic partnership" between their countries, with the Chinese saying: "I hope and believe that these visits to multiple countries will... help protect Iran's legitimate national interests and peace and stability in the region."

Tehran's embarked on the tour as regional tensions spiked just days after unprecedented Israeli strikes in which a monitor said killed at least 11 Iranian fighters, triggering fears of a broader conflict between the two arch-enemies.

Before leaving, Zarif published a government statement on his page, slamming Trump's "extremist administration" for abandoning "an accord recognised as a victory of diplomacy by the international community".

It reiterated that was preparing to resume "industrial scale" uranium enrichment "without any restrictions" unless provided solid guarantees it could maintain trade ties despite renewed US sanctions.

Trump hit back last evening, tweeting that the accord had failed to contain Iran's militarism.

"Iran's Military Budget is up more than 40 per cent since the Obama negotiated Nuclear Deal was reached... just another indicator that it was all a big lie," he wrote.

Zarif's delicate diplomatic mission was complicated by the reports of clashes between Iranian and Israeli forces in on Thursday.

The said Saturday that 11 Iranians were among the pro-regime fighters killed in strikes by Israel, which has vowed to prevent from gaining a military foothold in neighbouring

Tehran, which has sought to avoid an escalation in a regional conflict that could alienate its European partners, has not commented on whether its forces were hit.

and its allies have blamed Iran's for initiating Thursday's exchange by launching missiles into the occupied Iran denies the claims, saying the Israeli strikes were launched on "invented pretexts".

Meanwhile, European diplomats in fumed that Trump's decision to withdraw from the deal could undermine years of patient work to restore commercial and diplomatic ties with the Islamic Republic.

"Since the signing of the JCPOA (nuclear deal), we have gone from an atmosphere like a gold rush, to one of utter depression," said a on condition of anonymity.

"We are waiting now for how the decision-makers in the will react. If the EU leans towards accommodating the US, all the progress we have made since 2015 will be lost."

Iranian hardliners -- who have long opposed Hassan Rouhani's moves to improve ties with the West -- are already mobilising against the efforts to save the nuclear deal.

Mohammad Ali Jafari, of the Revolutionary Guards, said the country could not rely on the West.

"We hope recent events will lead us not to trust in the West and even Europeans," he said Sunday, according to the conservative-linked agency.

"The Europeans have repeated on several occasions that they will not be able to resist US sanctions." He added if the European powers were unable to make guarantees, "we must choose the path of self-sufficiency and nuclear industry with our own capabilities".

(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

First Published: Sun, May 13 2018. 17:40 IST