ASTANA — Russia and China moved on Thursday to extend their economic influence in Iran, while Europeans are finding it harder to ignore efforts by Washington to isolate Tehran economically.
A Russian-led trade bloc, in one of the most concrete moves yet against renewed US efforts to choke off Iran economically, signed an interim trade deal with Iran and signalled plans to negotiate a free trade zone.
Meanwhile, Iran’s oil minister said that Chinese state-owned oil company CNPC was ready to replace Total on a major gas field project in Iran if the French energy giant pulls out.
The fate of Total’s participation in the gas project demonstrates the difficulty the European Union faces in resisting Washington’s move as European firms stand to lose much more from busting US sanctions.
Earlier this month US President Donald Trump’s controversially pulled Washington out of an international deal with Iran that placed limits on its nuclear programme in return for easing economic sanctions.
China, Russia and EU members Britain, France and Germany were also signatories of the 2015 pact, opposed Washington’s abandonment of the deal which Iran had respected.
But companies around the world now face a difficult choice as Washington has previously slapped huge fines on firms which bust US sanctions.
This week the EU launched work on a plan to keep the nuclear deal alive and French President Emmanuel Macron said Thursday that one reason is “so that our businesses can remain” in Iran.
However Total has indicated it will go forward with the investment only if it wins an exemption from Washington on the sanctions.
Other European firms are likely to make a similar calculation that the US market is worth much more to them than Iran.
Danish shipping giant Maersk Tankers said Thursday it would cease its activities in Iran, while German insurer Allianz has also announced it plans to wind down its business deals there.Follow @gorkhapost
Trump calls off US-North Korea summit
WASHINGTON — US President Donald Trump has called off his planned June 12 summit meeting with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un in a letter released by the White House on Thursday.
“I was very much looking forward to being there with you,” Trump said in the letter, “Sadly, based on the tremendous anger and open hostility displayed in your most recent statement, I feel it is inappropriate, at this time, to have this long-planned meeting.”
North Korea said its leader Kim had made utmost efforts to ensure the summit proceeded and was still hopeful of resolving issues with the US.
But Trump wrote a letter to Mr Kim to announce his abrupt withdrawal from what would have been a first-ever meeting between a serving US president and a North Korean leader in Singapore on June 12.
In the letter, Mr Trump wrote he felt it was “inappropriate, at this time, to have this long-planned meeting” after “tremendous anger and open hostility” displayed in North Korea’s most recent statement.
“Therefore, please let this letter serve to represent that the Singapore summit, for the good of both parties, but to the detriment of the world, will not take place,” the letter read.
Kim Kye-gwan, Vice-Foreign Minister of North Korea, said Pyongyang was still open to resolving issues with the US whenever and however.
“We had set in high regards President Trump’s efforts, unprecedented by any other president, to create a historic North Korea-US summit,” said the Vice-Foreign Minister in a statement released by the North’s central news agency.