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At G20, saving the Iran nuclear deal is at the heart of emergency talks among world leaders

UK Prime Minister Theresa May and allied governments will work to form a new trading regime to help business continue with Iran despite the U.S. sanctions.

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London: World leaders are set to hold emergency talks in an attempt to rescue the Iran nuclear deal and avert a major international security crisis when they meet at the Group of 20 summit in Japan this week.

Leaders will hold discussions on the sidelines of the gathering in Osaka in an effort to reduce the tension between the U.S. and Iran, which has escalated following President Donald Trump’s decision last year to pull out of the 2015 accord and impose sanctions.

In recent days, fears have grown over the risk of armed conflict in the region, after the U.S. blamed the Iranian military for attacks on oil tankers, and following the shooting down of an unmanned American drone. As Trump announced more sanctions, Iran was warning it will break the terms of the 2015 nuclear agreement by breaching the limits on its enriched uranium program as early as Thursday.

The leaders of the world powers who struck the agreement with Iran — the U.S., China, the U.K. France, Germany and Russia will all be present at the G-20 summit, which takes place Friday and Saturday.

‘Stand Together’

According to a senior British official, U.K. Prime Minister Theresa May is among the leaders aiming to hold intensive discussions in small groups with their counterparts at the summit to find a way through the tensions. The aim is to demonstrate a concerted global effort to save the nuclear deal from collapse, the official said, speaking on condition of anonymity because the matter is sensitive.

“The international community must stand together against Iran’s deeply destabilising activity,” May said in an emailed statement as she prepared to fly to Japan for her final G-20 summit as British premier. “Our priority should be the urgent de-escalation of tensions and we need to find a diplomatic solution to the current situation.”

Even if Iran breaches the terms of the so-called Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), the formal process will take time to resolve, making an immediate escalation of the crisis unlikely, a person familiar with the situation said.

The British government disagrees with Trump’s decision to pull out of the deal and is working hard with other allies, including the governments of Germany and France, to rescue the deal. That includes working as fast as possible to roll out a new trading regime to help business continue with Iran despite the U.S. sanctions. Other U.K. priorities for May’s final G-20 trip include:

  • May will meet Russian President Vladimir Putin at the gathering Friday. Her spokesman said Wednesday that the meeting was not a sign that relations between Britain and Russia were returning to normal, but an opportunity to tell Putin the U.K. is “open to a different relationship,” if Russia changes its behavior.
  • Climate change and the trade war between the U.S. and China will be a major focus for May among other leaders during the summit, according to the British official. The U.K. is weighing up the implications of Trump’s crackdown on Huawei for the development of Britain’s domestic telecommunications infrastructure.

Also read: Iran’s nuclear standoff is about to enter a perilous new phase


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