EU leaders united over need to preserve Iran nuclear deal

Leaders of the European Union were united in their resolve that the Iran nuclear deal needed to be preserved despite the US decision to withdraw from it, they said on Thursday.

The bloc's leaders discussed the issue during a working dinner Wednesday night in the Bulgarian capital, one week after President Donald Trump's decision to pull out of the 2015 agreement meant to prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons in return for the lifting of sanctions.

"Everyone in the European Union shares the view that this agreement is not perfect, but that we should remain in this agreement and continue to conduct further negotiations with Iran on other issues, such as the ballistic programme," German Chancellor Angela Merkel said.

Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz said it was important that EU countries react in a coordinated manner, which was visible during the working dinner.

"We all pull together here," Kurz said.

He noted that the agreement was good for Europe's security because it makes sure that Iran cannot acquire nuclear weapons.

"We have a few weeks left to save it," he said. "No one can tell right now if that will work, but we'll do our best."

Trump says the deal is "defective at its core" because it was poorly negotiated and does not do enough to check Iran's regional ambitions and missile programme.

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