Mike Pompeo heads to Russian Federation as U.S. diplomacy turns schizophrenic

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo boards a plane before departing from London Stansted Airport north of London

European countries said last week they wanted to preserve the Iran nuclear deal and rejected "ultimatums" from Tehran, after Iran relaxed restrictions on its nuclear program and threatened moves that might leave the worldwide pact.

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is expected in Brussels on Monday to meet with top European Union officials in order to discuss "urgent matters", namely surrounding an endangered nuclear deal with Iran.

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

A State Department official said Pompeo, who will also meet with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov for the second time in as many weeks, would push for progress in particular in one area - arms control.

Trump has sent an aircraft carrier and B-52 bombers to the Gulf in a show of force against what US officials have said is a threat to USA troops in the region.

British Foreign Minister Jeremy Hunt said the United Kingdom is anxious about the risk of conflict between Iran and the US.

Tensions mounted last week, when Iranian President Hassan Rouhani gave the remaining signatories 60 days to come up with a plan to shield his country from sanctions imposed by U.S. President Donald Trump after the U.S. withdrew from the deal.

Brian Hook, US special envoy for Iran, said Pompeo made the unscheduled stop in Brussels because "Iran is an escalating threat and this seemed like a timely visit on his way to Sochi".

The European powers rejected that ultimatum.




The EU is trying to implement a new channel to allow Iran to sell its oil and circumvent newly-instated USA sanctions, but setting it up is proving complex.

German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas said Berlin "still regards this nuclear agreement as the basis for Iran not having any nuclear weapons in the future and we regard this as existential for our security".

French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian joined the criticism of the U.S., saying Washington's move to step up sanctions against Iran "does not suit us".

Maas also stressed that in Europe's view, the pact was the best way to prevent Iran building an atomic bomb.

Pompeo will meet with Putin and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov during his visit to Russia from May 13-14.

Mass said they also insisted on the importance of the nuclear deal.

"We would expect coordinated steps and coordinated thinking in this regard", Lithuanian Foreign Minister Linas Linkevicius told reporters in Brussels.

He said that Iran was the principle topic of the bilateral meetings, but that Pompeo also discussed Venezuela, Ukraine, Syria, Libya and "issues relating to North Atlantic Treaty Organisation".

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