The Latest: German leader argues for preserving Iran deal

German Chancellor Angela Merkel attends the first day of the budget 2018 debate at the parliament Bundestag at the Reichstag building in Berlin, Tuesday, May 15, 2018. (AP Photo/Markus Schreiber)
Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif smiles as he speaks to Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov during their meeting in Moscow, Russia, Monday, May 14, 2018. Lavrov calls on participants in Iran nuclear deal to cooperate in defending legitimate interests. (Maxim Shemetov/Pool Photo via AP)

BRUSSELS — The Latest on the Iran nuclear deal (all times local):

4 p.m.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel has acknowledged that the Iran nuclear deal "certainly has weaknesses" but says it should be preserved.

Merkel said in a speech to a labor union congress in Berlin that President Donald Trump's decision to withdraw from the 2015 agreement marked "a shift in German-American, in European-American relations."

She added: "Britain, France and Germany were of the opinion that the agreement against Iran's nuclear armament is an agreement that certainly has weaknesses, but an agreement we should stand by."

Merkel said the Europeans aren't "blind" to threats posed by Iran's activities in Syria to Israel, for example. "But we still think that, with the agreement, we would have better preconditions to speak with Iran about further agreements than by unilaterally canceling an agreement that was unanimously approved and endorsed in the U.N. Security Council."

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1:15 p.m.

Major European powers have sought to keep Iran in a landmark international nuclear agreement after President Donald Trump pulled the U.S. out of the pact and promised tough economic sanctions against Tehran.

In one of a series of meetings, foreign ministers from Britain, France and Germany — signatories of the 2015 deal to stop Iran developing nuclear weapons — were to hold talks with Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, amid concerns that the sanctions will also damage European business interests.

British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson said before the meeting in Brussels that "the U.K. and our European partners continue to view the nuclear deal as vital for our shared security, and remain fully committed to upholding it."

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10:20 a.m.

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif has met with European Union foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini as the Europeans seek to keep the Iran nuclear agreement.

Zarif said little to reporters Tuesday but suggested he wanted to discuss the deaths of dozens of Palestinians in Gaza as well as the nuclear deal, which U.S. President Donald Trump withdrew from last week.

He was due to hold talks later in Brussels with the foreign ministers of Britain, France and Germany.

The EU hopes to convince Iran to continue to respect the landmark nuclear pact.

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