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Pompeo Cancels Moscow Trip to Hold Iran Talks in Brussels

Pompeo Cancels Moscow Trip to Hold Iran Talks in Brussels

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is in Brussels for emergency talks on Iran, following a series of escalations in tensions over the weekend.

The U.S. State Department said in a statement that Pompeo had cancelled a planned stopover in Moscow to go instead to Brussels "to discuss recent threatening actions and statements" by Iran.

Pompeo will depart Sunday and arrive in Moscow on Monday to meet with USA embassy staff and lay a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier at the Kremling Wall, according to spokeswoman Morgan Ortagus. Europe sees it as key to preventing a nuclear-armed Iran.

A senior State Department official wouldn't say if the long-awaited release of that report is why Pompeo is now ready to head to Moscow.

Germany is working on maintaining a legal channel for trade with Iran, a government spokesman said on Monday, after Iran last week eased curbs on its nuclear programme and threatened moves that might breach a 2015 worldwide nuclear pact.

Federica Mogherini said: "We will continue to support it as much as we can with all our instruments and all our political will".

The last-minute decision - announced as Pompeo hopped on a plane - set up a confrontation between him and European diplomats who have been scrambling to save the Iranian nuclear deal which was abandoned by the United States previous year, the Washington Post reported. The American will also meet European Union foreign affairs chief Federica Mogherini.

Mogherini said the talks would focus on "how to continue to best support the full implementation of the nuclear deal".

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Shortly following Pompeo's meetings, US President Donald Trump warned that "it would be a very bad mistake" if Iran does anything.

Britain's foreign secretary offered the warning as Saudi Arabia said two of its oil tankers were sabotaged and received "significant damage" Sunday off the coast of the United Arab Emirates, one of the vessels as it was heading to pick up Saudi oil to take to the United States.

"The Iranians have used the proxies in the region to dominate and control the Middle East which is their ultimate objective", Keane continued.

"This is already the most unstable region in the world and this would be a massive step in the wrong direction", he added.

The Europeans have set up a complicated barter-type system to skirt direct financial transactions with Iran and so evade possible USA sanctions.

In response, Russian Federation has accused the USA of illegally interfering in Venezuela's internal affairs.

The EU is pressing the Iranian government to abide by the terms of the nuclear agreement, holding out the prospect of further economic relief that has been threatened by the renewed US penalties.

Pompeo's meetings with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov in Sochi will be held as scheduled, said Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Riabkov.