Germany urges US to talk with Iran
German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas on Friday said he wanted to ensure a pledge by US President Donald Trump to defuse tensions with Iran bears fruit.
Maas spoke to reporters after brief talks between Germany, France and Britain along with EU foreign affairs chief Federica Mogherini on the sidelines of a EU meeting in Helsinki.
He said a return to dialogue between Washington and Tehran now has "priority" over other EU initiatives such as a mission to protect oil shipping in the Strait of Hormus.
"After the G7 summit in Biarritz we are all of the opinion that the momentum that perhaps exists, the readiness for dialogue on both sides... must now be used," Maas said.
Trump's gesture spurned
Trump said at last week's G7 summit that he was ready to meet with the Iranian president within weeks. Tehran, however, has made the lifting of US sanctions a condition for talks.
Washington reimposed biting financial sanctions on Iran after the US withdrew from the 2015 nuclear deal last year.
On Friday, Mogherini said the EU would continue working to preserve the deal, which seeks to contain Iran's development of a nuclear weapon. She said the bloc would welcome any progress beyond it.
"My role...is to preserve the full implementation of the existing agreements. Again if something else can be built on it, this would be welcomed and accompanied by the European Union," she told reporters.
Germany hesitant over Gulf mission
Tensions have spiked recently in the Perisan Gulf, where Iran has seized Western tankers, prompting the US to launch Operation Sentinel, a mission to protect commercial shipping on the crucial oil trade routes, in particular in the Strait of Hormuz.
Britain, Australia and Bahrain have joined the operation, but Germany has said it is not in favor of participating, for fear of being dragged into a conflict.