Britain, France and Germany used a meeting of the EU's 28 foreign ministers to try to build support for expanding sanctions against Iran to punish it for its ballistic missile programme and its role in regional conflicts including Syria and Yemen.
Simon Coveney, the Irish foreign minister, said there was a need to "send a strong signal to Iran that we're concerned in relation to some of their activity particularly in Syria".
Targets for new sanctions could include both Iranians and also non-Iranian militias in Syria, an EU diplomat said. But any decision on sanctions would have to have unanimous support from all 28 EU states and so far several, including Italy and Sweden, are not convinced.
Another EU diplomat said the aim of Monday's talks was to build political support for new sanctions and the effort would continue in the coming weeks.
The EU is desperate to preserve the Iran nuclear deal, seeing it as the best way to stop Tehran getting the bomb. French President Emmanuel Macron and Germany's Chancellor
Angela Merkel will both visit Washington on separate official visits before May 12, in part to lobby Trump on the issue.
Trump has long derided the deal as a capitulation to Tehran and has declared it no longer is in US interests to maintain the sanctions relief his predecessor Barack Obama granted Iran in return for controls on its nuclear programme.
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