I have decided to convene this meeting here in Brussels today, first of all with the three ministers of the three countries of the European Union that have been negotiating this agreement - Germany, France and the United Kingdom - to look at the specific measures we can take to protect European investments, to protect the European strategic security interest, which is that of preserving this Iranian nuclear deal. And we will work together, the E3 [France, Germany and the United Kingdom], together with me, and then tomorrow with the 28 Heads of State or Government in Sofia, on the ways in which the European Union can preserve the deal, preserve its economic investments, most of all preserve its security interests, which is avoiding that Iran can develop a nuclear weapon, which means for us preserving the deal that is working and delivering.
Then the Iranian Foreign Minister, Mohammad Javad Zarif, will join us for the second part of the meeting. We will discuss with him both these issues: the strong commitment to preserve the deal, which implies that Iran is also reconfirming its commitment to the full implementation of its own commitments to the deal. This is the agreement: we stay, you stay; you stay, we stay. And we also will share some ideas on the concrete steps to proceed in the coming days and weeks.
So I will meet you [press and media] at the end of the two meetings and I'll tell you more about the outcome.
Q: What guarantees are the Iranians looking for from the EU?
We [Foreign Minister Zarif and High Representative/Vice-President Federica Mogherini, in their bilateral meeting earlier today] didn't discuss guarantees. We discussed the concrete steps that we can take, the efforts we can make in a difficult environment - both for Iran, for the European Union, for the Member States, but also for others – Russia, China, other players in the international community that do have relations, including economic and trade relations with Iran - on the steps that we can take together in a coordinated manner to save this agreement. This would require, as I said, efforts on all sides in circumstances that are not the one we would have wished to see, but that is the reality of facts we have to deal with. So we are not naive. We know it will be difficult on all sides. But we believe that we are together in an effort to preserve security on the non-proliferation agreement we have signed. And I am reassured, first and foremost, by the unity of the international community in this respect. So again, I wouldn't talk about guarantees; I'm talking about and we're discussing about steps we can take, measures we can put in place to ensure that we can have a coordinated effort to continue the full implementation of the agreement. And obviously, among the different provisions of the agreement, there are also the economic benefits for the Iranian people that are coming out of the conclusion of the agreement.
Q: What can you do to protect European companies against US sanctions?
I will tell you more later after our exchanges with the ministers. We have been working on different tracks. By the way, not only will I brief the Heads of State or Government of the 28 EU Member States tomorrow night in Sofia on this, but also tomorrow morning in the [weekly] college meeting of the [European] Commission, we'll work on some elements that could be usefully put in place at the European Union level.
Q: Do you get the impression that Iran, Mr Zarif, is prepared to talk about other issues such as the ballistic missile programme?
Tonight we talk about the Iran nuclear deal. Tonight we talk about how to preserve an achievement we have built together and that we have a common interest to preserve. We have, as you know very well, other issues of discussion, of disagreement, in certain cases with Iran. They are not a mystery. They are not hidden. We discuss them very often. In particular, we have as the European Union a Political Dialogue with Iran where we tackle all these issues without any reservation and without any taboos. But tonight, the purpose of the meeting is to put in place steps and convene among ourselves on how to preserve the nuclear agreement. This is the issue for tonight. All the other things can be, will be and are discussed, but in a different set-up.