EU’s top diplomat discusses Russia, Iran nuclear deal with Tillerson

U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson meets with European Union High Representative for Foreign Affairs Federica Mogherini at the State Department in Washington [Reuters]

In their first meeting, the EU’s foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini and US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson spoke “at length” about terrorism, Russia, the Iran nuclear deal and Ukraine, the EU said in a statement.

Mogherini is in Washington for a two-day visit to “identify common ground” with the new administration, following a series of disputes between US President Donald Trump and Europe.

Mogherini kicks off efforts to restore EU-US relations

The EU’s top diplomat, Federica Mogherini, will travel to Washington later this week to “identify common ground” with the new administration, following a series of disputes between US President Donald Trump and Europe.

Against the backdrop of Europe’s disunity over current challenges (migration, economic policy…) and the future of the Union, Trump is trying to exploit its differences, in order to weaken the bloc’s influence in world affairs, to “make America great again” as he promised in his campaign.

On her Twitter account, the EU’s top diplomat said she had had a “good meeting” with Tillerson, discussing US-EU cooperation and the crises in Syria and Ukraine, among other issues.

The two discussed “trans-Atlantic relations, the common challenge of countering terrorism, the ongoing work to strengthen European defense, relations with Russia, the Iran nuclear deal and the main crises, from Ukraine to Syria,” the statement said.

The State Department did not provide details of what the two top diplomats for the United States and Europe discussed.

On Thursday (9 February), she also met with Michael Flynn, Trump’s national security advisor, a White House official said.

Mogherini helped negotiate the 2015 nuclear deal with Iran, along with diplomats from Iran, the United States and other major world powers. The deal curbed Iran’s nuclear programme in return for sanctions relief.

Trump has said the deal is terrible, and Flynn put Iran “on notice” last week for test-firing a ballistic missile, raising the prospect of spiking tensions between Iran and the United States.

The US president has expressed openness to working more closely with Russia, a stance that has rattled European allies and drawn criticism from Democrats and Republicans, who say Russia is an adversary of the United States and other Western democracies.

Tillerson had significant business ties with prominent Russians in his former position as Exxon Mobil Corp’s chief executive, but also referred to Russia as a “bad actor” during his confirmation hearing last month.

On security challenges, Mogherini seemed to have had an excellent exchange with Senator John McCain, as he pointed out on Twitter.

During her visit, Mogherini is expected to go through “the old list of files”, including the fight against climate change, Syria, Libya, Ukraine and the Middle East Peace Process, to find where views converge.

But the list of grievances and complaints is long, requiring an arduous effort to clean the air and repair the trans-Atlantic bond.

Today, Mogherini will address the Atlantic Council’s Future Europe Initiative from 2-3pm local time. The conversation with Fred Kempe, President and CEO of the Atlantic Council, will be livestreamed

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