WASHINGTON The European Union's foreign policy chief, Federica Mogherini, said on Friday she was reassured during meetings with President Donald Trump's administration that it was committed to full implementation of the Iran nuclear deal.
In her first visit to Washington since Trump took power, Mogherini came to present the European Union as a valuable friend to the United States with common priorities.
In a nod to Trump's preferred style of diplomacy, she said that the European Union could adopt a more formal "transactional approach" on some issues to appeal to the new administration.
Mogherini, who met this week with Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, National Security Advisor Michael Flynn, Trump's advisor and son-in-law Jared Kushner and members of Congress, said her main intention in Washington was to discuss the nuclear accord, which granted Iran sanctions relief in return for curbs on its nuclear programme.
Her visit suggests concern among European and other countries, including Russia and China, that the Trump administration may withdraw from the 2015 nuclear deal.
There have been increasing concerns since the White House put Iran "on notice" for test-firing a ballistic missile. Days later, Washington tightened sanctions against Iran by imposing measures against 25 individuals and entities for the missile test.
"I was reassured by what I heard in the meetings on the intention to stick to the full implementation of the agreement," Mogherini told reporters.
Mogherini said she won assurances from members of the Trump administration that they believe Russia should abide by the terms of the 2015 Minsk agreement to end fighting in eastern Ukraine. Mogherini said she and Tillerson discussed how the Minsk agreement might be fully implemented.
But Mogherini also signalled doubt about Trump's commitment to U.S. policy towards Russia. Republicans and Democrats in Congress have expressed concern that Trump will be too conciliatory towards Moscow, perhaps by granting Russia relief from sanctions on its energy, defence and finance industries.
"We agreed that as long as the Minsk agreements are not fully implemented, sanctions would remain in place," Mogherini said later on Friday at a Washington think tank. "But I don't know if this is going to be the consolidated policy ... I was not in the Oval Office when President Trump called President (Vladimir) Putin."
Mogherini avoided directly criticizing Trump, but said European history showed that blocking the movement of people is doomed to fail.
Trump has vowed to build a wall along the U.S. southern border to block illegal immigration from Mexico. He has also issued an executive order barring people from Iraq, Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen from entering the United States for 90 days and all refugees for 120 days, except refugees from Syria, who are banned indefinitely.
"We tend to celebrate when walls come down," Mogherini said. "America has always been great because it has been made up of many people coming from different places."
(Additional reporting by Yehaneh Torbati; Editing by Bernadette Baum and Sandra Maler)