European Union tells Iran it will try to protect firms from U.S. sanctions

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"I'm privy to the information that the European Union is going to shift from dollar to euro to pay for crude from Iran", the website of Russian news channel RT said on Wednesday, citing a diplomatic source who spoke to Sputnik news agency.

Mr. Pompeo scored bonus points Wednesday by flying home to the United States with three American prisoners released from North Korea ahead of President Trump's planned meeting with North Korea leader Kim Jong Un.

After an hour-long meeting at European Union headquarters in Brussels, Zarif said he believed both sides were "on the right track" to make sure that the interests of Iran and the non-U.S. partners "will be preserved and guaranteed".

Federica Mogherini said the ministers shared a willingness to "arrive at practical solutions" for keeping the 2015 deal going despite the decision of U.S. President Donald Trump to abandon the agreement.

In the CNN interview, Bolton did not respond directly when asked whether Trump might seek "regime change" in Iran, or whether the U.S. military would be ordered to make a pre-emptive strike against any Iranian nuclear facility.

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said the meeting had been a good start, but he wanted to see guarantees materialise.

Measures could include retaliatory sanctions, allowing the European Investment Bank to invest in Iran and coordinating euro-denominated credit lines from European governments.

Europeans have sought to play down expectations of Tuesday's meeting, stressing the enormous challenge of finding a way around United States sanctions punishing foreign businesses trading with Iran, which have global reach.

Zarif was returning from a diplomatic tour of the remaining parties to the 2015 nuclear agreement - Britain, France, Germany, China and Russian Federation - following the United States decision last week to pull out.

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"We reaffirmed together our resolve to continue to implement the nuclear deal in all its parts, in good faith, and in a constructive atmosphere", she said.

White House National Security adviser John Bolton on Sunday said U.S. sanctions on European companies that do business with Iran were "possible, but Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said he remained hopeful Washington and its allies could strike a new nuclear deal with Tehran".

Those comments were echoed by Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson who told parliament that regime change in Iran was not a policy Britain should pursue.

The European ministers also brought up in the talks their concerns over Iran's ballistic missile programme and regional activities, diplomats said.

Moscow would have to play a key role in ensuring Tehran does not resume its nuclear programme, he said.

Annulment of the accord could tip the balance of power in favour of hardliners looking to constrain pragmatist President Hassan Rouhani's ability to open up to the West.

"[New Zealand companies] will lose in this sanction, we can buy, for example butter, from many other countries, that is why it is not in favour of New Zealand, it will not serve the New Zealand companies' interests".

On Sunday, US National Security Adviser John Bolton threatened the European allies that Washington is prepared to impose sanctions on European companies if their governments refuse to heed Trump's demand to stop dealing with Iran.

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