Merkel defends Iran deal, multilateralism but Pence resists

MUNICH — German Chancellor Angela Merkel drew lengthy applause Saturday for her spirited defense of a multilateral approach to global affairs and support for Europe’s decision to stand by a nuclear deal with Iran.

U.S. Vice President Mike Pence was not among the impressed, however, and he doubled down on American criticism of Europe.

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Merkel’s comments at the Munich Security Conference followed days of acrimony between the U.S. and Europe over Iran.

Merkel told the group — which included the largest U.S. delegation ever with dozens of members of Congress, Ivanka Trump, Pence and others — that she shared American concerns about many Iranian efforts to increase its power in the region.

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But while she said the split with the U.S. over Iran’s nuclear agreement “depresses me very much,” she defended it as an important channel to Tehran, stressing the need for international diplomacy.

Germany, Britain, France, China, Russia and the European Union have been trying to keep the 2015 deal with Iran alive since President Donald Trump unilaterally pulled out of it last year.

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