U.S. and Germany clash over Iran deal and Syria

The US vice president called for the European states to leave the Iran deal

When German Chancellor Angela Merkel finished an extended critique of Trump's "America First" policies, she received an enthusiastic standing ovation.

Pence told senior European and Asian government officials to follow the United States's lead and withdraw from the Iran nuclear deal.

But traditional American allies are troubled by Trump's rhetoric, which they say is erratic and disruptive, citing his decision to pull out of the 2015 Iran nuclear deal as undermining an arms control agreement that prevented Tehran from developing a nuclear bomb. "We sit there in the middle with the result", she said, with such decisions directly affecting European security.

"Would canceling the only remaining agreement with Iran help our common goal to contain its negative impact?" "Or do we help it more by keeping the small anchor we have in order maybe to exert pressure in other areas?"

Pence also used the opportunity to tell allies and foes alike that the threat from Iran can not be ignored, accusing Tehran of being "the leading state sponsor of terrorism in the world".

Facing an audience peppered with influential figures-like a senior Chinese official, Russia's foreign minister, and Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump-the German chancellor resisted U.S. demands that Europe ditch the Iran nuclear deal, saying it's easier to influence Iran on other issues by keeping a hand in, per the New York Times.

But Pence - who last week during a visit to Poland accused Britain, Germany and France of undermining US sanctions on Iran - repeated his demand that European powers withdraw from the deal.

It may also raise the prospect of a deal in which the United States keeps a military presence in Syria to support its allies in return for the European Union unwinding its support for the nuclear deal with Iran.

He warned that the future of the nuclear deal was "on the brink", saying that while polls showed 51% of Iranians still supported staying in, there were many who thought Tehran had got a bad deal. It reimposed economic sanctions a year ago after pulling out of the landmark 2015 Iran accord with world powers aimed at preventing Iran from developing a nuclear weapon.

"Is it a good thing to immediately withdraw troops from Syria now, American troops, or will it strengthen Iran's capacity and Russia's capacity to influence the situation on the ground? They should be coordinated (with Ukraine)", she said. Zarif said. "Just glimpse at a map for a second - the USA military has traveled 10,000 kilometers to dot all our borders with its bases".

For much of this past week, the growing rift between the US and its traditional European allies has been on display.

Merkel also defended Germany's progress in fulfilling North Atlantic Treaty Organisation guidelines for countries to move toward spending 2 per cent of their gross domestic product on defence by 2024, which has been criticized as too slow.

Merkel's comments, and her defense of global diplomacy instead of a go-it-alone foreign policy, drew lengthy applause.

A US Commerce Department report has concluded that auto imports threaten national security, setting the stage for possible tariffs by the White House, two people familiar with the matter said Thursday.

"We are in Syria on the invitation of the Syrian government for the sole goal of fighting terrorism", Zarif said. "And we commend others to do that same". "We can not strengthen the West by becoming dependent on the East", Pence said.

Speaking as Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko looked on, she told him his country would continue to be a transit country for Russian gas even after the pipeline is complete.

Merkel noted that Europe also has enough terminals to receive more liquefied gas from the USA, among other options.

The United States and European powers voiced sharply differing views on issues from Mideast security to trade Saturday, laying bare a deep trans-Atlantic rift in the era of President Donald Trump.



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