Pompeo to hold talks in Brussels

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo boards a plane before departing from London Stansted Airport north of London

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo boards a plane before departing from London Stansted Airport north of London

However, in a joint statement last week, the European Union ministers said they remain committed to trade with Tehran if it upheld its commitments in the nuclear deal. The Nimitz-class aircraft carrier is now deployed in the Middle East.

This is coming on the heels of Tehran's plans last week to partially withdraw from a 2015 deal with major powers. A senior department official said in addition to Venezuela and Iran, the talks would include arms control, stalled US nuclear negotiations with North Korea, Syria, Russia's support for separatists in eastern Ukraine and Washington's concerns about Russian election interference efforts.

But she noted that the deal stands a chance if a joint effort is made along with other signatories of the agreement, including China and Russian Federation.

"We reject any ultimatums and we will assess Iran's compliance on the basis of Iran's performance regarding its nuclear-related commitments under the JCPOA [Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action] and the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons", the statement by Ms Mogherini and the three foreign ministers said.

In theory that probably means Pompeo brow-beating Russia over how Ukraine hasn't managed to crush the ethnic Russian region along the Russian border, something the U.S. has long had a problem with.

British Foreign Minister Jeremy Hunt said the United Kingdom is anxious about the risk of conflict between Iran and the US.

French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian joined the criticism of the U.S. saying Washington's move to step up sanctions against Iran "does not suit us".

European leaders agree with the United States that Iran's developing ballistic missile program and its belligerent behavior in its region and are problematic. Europe sees it as key to preventing a nuclear-armed Iran.

The top U.S. diplomat's trip comes less than two months after Special Counsel Robert Mueller wound up an investigation that found that Russian Federation interfered in the 2016 presidential election - but that the Trump campaign did not collude with Moscow.

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo (L) poses with Britain's Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt at the European Council in Brussels, Belgium, May 13, 2019.

"The secretary wanted to share some details behind what we have been saying publicly", Hook said.

U.S. diplomats downplayed talk of a split. "They have chosen poorly by focusing on threats".

The US has continued to build pressure on Iran, with Pompeo accusing Tehran of planning "imminent" attacks. "We have been requested by the UAE to provide assistance in the investigation, which we are very glad to do".

Asked if he himself believed there was the possibility of an Iranian role, Hook said: "Don't have any comment".

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is heading to Russian Federation with an unusual and thankless task - standing firm against the rival power even as his boss, President Donald Trump, reaches out to reconcile.

I wish Pompeo luck in talking to the EU Foreign Ministers, but I'm not terribly hopeful for any real progress. "If they do anything they will suffer greatly".

Abbas Mousavi, spokesman for the ministry, also warned against any "conspiracy orchestrated by ill-wishers" and "adventurism by foreigners" to undermine the maritime region's stability and security. But if they want to come to the table and make a viable offer that Donald Trump can accept, we could put this behind us.

The United Nations called for restraint from all sides. The workaround, dubbed INSTEX, is not yet operational as Iran has not completed its part of the scheme.

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