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Iran minister on diplomatic tour to save nuclear deal

AFP  |  Tehran 

Iran's was due to leave today for a whirlwind diplomatic tour as world leaders scramble to salvage something from the wreckage of a landmark nuclear deal in the wake of Washington's withdrawal.

Mohammad Javad Zarif's tour starts two 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.

He will visit Beijing, and Brussels, a said, holding meetings with all of the remaining parties to the 2015 agreement.

Before leaving, Zarif published a statement on his page, slamming the "extremist administration" of US 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 that it could maintain trade ties despite renewed US sanctions.

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

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

"Six Syrian soldiers and 21 foreign fighters, including 11 Iranians" were among the dead, said Observatory

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

and its allies have blamed the Iranian Revolutionary Guards for initiating Thursday's exchange by launching missiles into the occupied

The backed Israel's claims, accusing of "reckless actions" that posed a "severe threat" to stability in the

Iran denies that version of events, saying the Israeli strikes were launched on "invented pretexts".

Meanwhile, European diplomats in fumed that Trump's decision to withdraw from the nuclear 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." But she emphasised that many of the problems began long before Trump's move last Tuesday.

"Decisions on the Iranian side took longer than expected, international banks were reluctant to work with Iran and the recent decline in the value of (Iran's currency) made international business even more difficult," she said.

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.

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

First Published: Sat, May 12 2018. 18:20 IST