China defends Iran business ties after Trump threat

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Iran dismissed a last-minute offer from the Trump administration for talks, saying it could not negotiate while Washington had reneged on a 2015 deal to lift sanctions in return for curbs on Iran's nuclear program.

Mr Zarif said European powers - who say the nuclear deal is working - were asking other countries to continue buying Iranian oil or even start doing so when the next batch of U.S. sanctions take effect.

Ri is scheduled to meet with Iranian President Hassan Rouhani on Wednesday.

US administration officials swiftly dismissed the move.

US President Donald Trump announced the ban on Twitter on Monday, writing: "The Iran sanctions have officially been cast". They had also proposed setting up accounts for the Central Bank of Iran in their national banks, he added.

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Saudi Arabia's Foreign Ministry called the statement " a major, unacceptable affront to the kingdom's laws and judicial process ". Saudi Arabia's state airline said it would suspend flights to and from Canada, starting next week.

The comments from Beijing and Berlin signaled growing anger from partners of the United States, which reimposed strict sanctions against Iran on Tuesday, over its threat to penalize businesses from third countries that continue to operate there.

North Korean state media lashed out at the USA on Monday for its determination to maintain sanctions against the DPRK while negotiations on its nuclear program are ongoing, describing it as the "tragicomedy of the century".

"China's commercial cooperation with Iran is open and transparent, reasonable, fair and lawful, not violating any United Nations Security Council resolutions", it added.

With natural gas accounting for almost 40 percent of Turkey's electricity production, Donmez said that Turkey would continue this trade, as "we can't possibly leave our citizens in [the] dark".

USA sanctions on Iran's energy sector are to be re-imposed after a 180-day wind-down period ending on November 4.

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Washington has already issued the first sanctions against Iran on August 6.

European countries, hoping to persuade Tehran to continue to respect the nuclear deal, have promised to try to lessen the blow of sanctions and to urge their firms not to pull out. "Our crews that are on board our ships are well rehearsed, well prepared by the U.S. Navy when they come into our area", Votel said.

Also on Wednesday, Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif said it was hard to imagine new talks with the U.S. with its erratic decision-making.

"The performance of the USA government over the years is such that today the United States is recognized as an unreliable country in the world that does not adhere to any of its obligations", the President said, calling for the "expansion of relations and cooperation" between Tehran and Pyongyang.

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No date yet for the previously announced retaliatory tariffs on $16 billion in US goods, which will largely target commodities. In April, the administration had announced plans to slap tariffs on 1,333 Chinese product lines worth $50 billion a year.

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