European Union head criticizes Trump for hostile policies

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Britain and the EU were on a collision course with the U.S. last night, as European leaders insisted they would stick to the Iran nuclear deal abandoned by President Donald Trump - and that they would fight United States sanctions on EU firms that continued to do business with Tehran. "Additionally, the Commission was given a green light to be ready to act whenever European interests are affected", said European Council President Donald Tusk from Sofia, who later slammed Trump for his decision to ignore the advice of his fellow Western allies and accused Iran of violating the agreement, though he failed to produce evidence to back the claim. But he made clear bigger matters were at stake.

Speaking at news conference after a meeting of EU leaders in Bulgaria, Juncker added that he "also chose to allow the European Investment Bank to facilitate European companies' investment in Iran".

"On the Iran nuclear deal, we unanimously agreed that the European Union will stay in the agreement as long as Iran remains fully committed to it".

"If they can not do that, we are ready to take our nuclear programme to a level stronger than before the JCPOA", Ali Akbar Salehi said.

French energy giant, Total, warned on Wednesday it would pull out of a multibillion-dollar project to develop the vast South Pars gas field, which started in July 2017, unless it is granted a waiver by U.S. authorities.

The UK, France, Germany, China and Russian Federation were signatories of the 2015 pact and have opposed the US decision to pull-out of the deal.

Tusk demanded a permanent exemption from the threatened tariffs for the European Union, and said any claim by the United States that such tariffs are justified for national security would be "absurd".

As Macron spoke in Sofia, the world's largest container shipping firm, A.P. Moller-Maersk, said it would quit Iran.

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"International companies with interests in many countries make their own choices according to their own interests".

"With friends like these, who need enemies", he'd said, referring to Donald Trump's trade tariffs and his abandoning of the Iran nuclear deal.

Still he said he won't force companies to stay in Iran should the U.S.re-impose sanctions; "The President of the Republic is not the director general of Total".

Europe's "blocking statute" has never been used until now and its rules are vague and hard to enforce.

The EU is planning to use a so-called "blocking statute" to keep USA sanctions from impacting European companies.

Italian steel manufacturer Danieli announced it has halted work on finding financial coverage for orders it won in Iran worth 1.5 billion euros ($1.8 billion).

"It is no longer such that the United States simply protects us, but Europe must take its destiny in its own hands, that's the task of the future", she said.

The French-led effort could aid New Delhi, which is concerned the sanctions will not only hurt crude oil imports from Iran but also undermine the fledgeling Chabahar port project.

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