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Pompeo visits Brussels as Europe meets on Iran

AFP  |  Brussels 

US arrived in on Monday to discuss the nuclear deal, as Britain issued a stark warning about the risk of conflict erupting "by accident" in the Gulf.

is set to meet his counterparts from Britain, and -- the three European signatories to the 2015 accord that curbed Iran's nuclear ambitions in return for sanctions relief -- on the sidelines of a regular EU foreign ministers' gathering.

last week announced it was suspending some of its commitments under the agreement, a year after US withdrew from the accord and imposed swingeing sanctions on the Islamic republic -- putting the deal in peril.

Adding a military dimension to the diplomatic tensions, is sending an amphibious assault ship and a Patriot missile battery to the Gulf, having already deployed an and bombers.

British called for "a period of calm" as he arrived for talks, warning against the danger of pushing back towards developing nuclear weapons. "We are very worried about the risk of a conflict happening by accident with an escalation that is unintended on either side but ends with some kind of conflict," said.

"Most of all we must make sure we don't end up putting Iran back on the path to re-nuclearisation, because if Iran becomes a nuclear power its neighbours are likely to want to become nuclear powers.

"This is already the most unstable region in the world and it would be a massive step in the wrong direction." The European Union's stressed the need for dialogue as "the only and the best way to address differences and avoid escalation" in the region.

"We continue to fully support the nuclear deal with Iran, its full implementation," Mogherini said.

"It has been and continues to be for us a key element of the non-proliferation architecture both globally and in the region." French joined the criticism of the US, saying Washington's move to step up sanctions against Iran "does not suit us".

Alongside the meeting of all 28 foreign ministers, the representatives of Britain, and will meet Mogherini to discuss how to keep the deal going. "We in agree that this agreement is necessary for our security. No-one wants Iran to come into possession of a nuclear bomb," German said as he arrived.

"That is why we will continue to support the implementation of this agreement." Mogherini gave a chilly response to of Pompeo's visit, which she said was only communicated to at the last minute.

"We'll be here all day with a busy agenda so we'll see during the day how and if we manage to arrange a meeting," she told reporters.

issued an ultimatum to the Europeans last week, threatening that Iran would go further if they fail to deliver sanctions relief to counterbalance Trump's renewed assault on the Iranian economy within 60 days. The European powers rejected that ultimatum.

State Department said would discuss "recent threatening actions and statements by the Islamic Republic of Iran". The US has continued to build pressure on Iran, with Pompeo accusing of planning "imminent" attacks and bolstering the military presence in the Gulf. Pompeo's visit to means he is scrapping a stop expected on Monday in

But he will still head to the resort of Sochi on Tuesday to meet and Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, a State Department added just before Pompeo left

In recent days, Pompeo has already cancelled trips to and to to focus on the Iran issue.

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

First Published: Mon, May 13 2019. 16:31 IST