EU Foreign Ministers meeting in Luxembourg on Monday were expected to approve a new round of sanctions against Iran, in a bid to push Tehran to freeze its uranium-enrichment programme.
Targetting banking, industry and the maritime sector, the measures come on top of an oil embargo already in place and are the strongest yet imposed by the European Union.
Iran is suspected of developing a nuclear weapons programme.
“You have to continue with the pressure, the twin track approach: pressure to persuade Iran to come to the table, and the offers that we make about how we will release that pressure in return for Iran complying with its international obligations,” said the EU’s foreign policy chief, Catherine Ashton.
The EU has again reinforced sanctions against Syria. Two firms and more than two dozen people from President Assad’s entourage have had their assets frozen.
EU foreign ministers dined with their Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov on Sunday night, but there is little to suggest a narrowing of the chasm between each side’s position on Syria.
One diplomat described the meeting as “very friendly”. Another said it was “very hard”.