TEHRAN - Europe's energy chief will seek to reassure Iran's top ministers on Saturday that the European Union wants to keep trade open despite the U.S. withdrawal from the nuclear deal.
Miguel Arias Canete, European commissioner for energy and climate, will meet with five top Iranian minister over two days, including the Islamic State's nuclear chief, oil minister and foreign minister.
EU leaders have united behind the 2015 accord, with Brussels considering banning EU-based firms from complying with the sanctions that President Donald Trump has reimposed and urging governments to make money transfers to Iran's central bank to avoid fines.
But EU officials admit there is a limit to what they can do to parry sanctions as a wave of European companies quit business with Tehran, fearing the global reach of U.S. sanctions.
"There is no magic wand beyond trying to offer Iran a bit of reassurance," a senior EU official involved in Iran talks told Reuters.
The mission led by Canete is a symbolic gesture to urge Iran's leadership to stick to the nuclear deal and shore up support for the relatively moderate President Hassan Rouhani against hardliners looking to constrain his ability to open up to the West, EU officials said.
"The mission is very important to us because it shows the EU's determination to stand by its commitment," a senior Iranian official said.
Europe sees the pact, limiting Iran's nuclear activities in exchange for the relaxation of economic sanctions, as vital for international security.
Trump denounced it as "the worst deal ever" for failing to curb Iran's separate ballistic missile program and its influence in Syria, Yemen, Iraq and Lebanon.