German leader argues for preserving Iran deal

Mr Trump and Mrs Merkel met at the White House in late April

Major European countries share Trump's concerns but argue that the nuclear deal is the best way to stop the increasingly influential regional power from obtaining an atomic weapon.

Speaking during ongoing budgetary consultations in the federal parliament (Bundestag), Merkel hit back at opposition criticism of a scheduled rise in military funding from 38.5 billion euros (45.5 billion USA dollars) in 2018 to 41.5 billion euros in 2019.

The president, who participates in the sessions of the Bundestag for the approval of the 2018 federal budget, said in relation to the JCPOA that 'the question is whether it is convenient to end the agreement or maintain it, and we consider it better to remain in it'.

Meanwhile, Iranian President Hassan Rohani said on May 16 that Tehran will not flag under USA pressure.

Meanwhile, Tehran is looking for guarantees from Europe that the deal can continue without the U.S. and warned it could restart its nuclear programme if talks fail.

President Donald Trump announced last week the US would pull out of the 2015 accord, which is created to keep Tehran's nuclear ambitions in check and took over a decade to negotiate.

Mr Trump and Mrs Merkel reportedly have a strained relationship
Mr Trump and Mrs Merkel reportedly have a strained relationship Credit Mark Wilson Getty

"Trump played his first card, but miscalculated the second move", Rouhani was quoted as saying by the ISNA agency.

Merkel said the Europeans aren't "blind" to threats posed by Iran's activities in Syria to Israel, for example.

He also said Iran would not surrender to U.S. pressures.

He was due to hold talks later in Brussels with the foreign ministers of Britain, France and Germany.

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif has met with European Union foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini as the Europeans seek to keep the Iran nuclear agreement.

The Europeans and Iranians have tasked experts to come up with measures quickly and will meet again in Vienna next week.

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