"As long as Iran respects the provisions of the deal, the EU will also respect it", said Donald Tusk, president of the European Council and chairman of the leaders' gathering in the Bulgarian capital Sofia.
Still, the 28 EU leaders did not make any quick decisions during their first meeting on the matter since Trump quit the accord earlier this month, highlighting how USA clout in worldwide trade and finance limits the Europeans' scope for action.
Observers believe that the EU- Western Balkan Summit, which was supposed to bid to foster closer ties with their Balkan counterparts and to keep Russian Federation out of their backyard, was hijacked by the transatlantic rift caused by U.S. withdrawal from Iran deal.
Iran's Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said the talks had got off to a good start.
China also has significant trade links with Iran and seeks to keep the nuclear deal alive after Washington's withdrawal. On Wednesday, the French oil giant Total said it would have to divest from Iran unless it received an exemption from the American sanctions.
Tusk made the comments on May 16 in Bulgaria's capital, Sofia, before an European Union summit where the USA decision to abandon the Iran nuclear deal and the threat to impose tariffs on aluminium and steel products will be discussed. "We have pledged to take necessary political steps for our companies to stay in Iran".
Marking the importance of Thursday's summit with Western Balkan partners, Tusk said the event would be "an opportunity for both sides to reaffirm that the European perspective remains the Western Balkans' geostrategic choice".
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With this option, European companies were forbidden to comply with USA sanctions against Iran under threat of punishment. "We have an interest in diversifying our sources of supply", the European source said.
If it gets the exemption, the source said the European Union was ready to take steps including "voluntary regulatory cooperation" with the USA, and working on reform of the World Trade Organisation, after Trump claimed the United States was unfairly treated. "The president of the French republic is not the CEO of Total".
Also, EC has chose to allow European Investment Bank to facilitate investment of European companies in the Islamic Republic of Iran, he maintained.
Iran's current limited willingness to cooperate with and get practical guarantees from the European countries to try to keep the deal in place without the USA could be a great opportunity for the Europeans to take the first step on their new path and offer a new alternative multipolar world order based on worldwide law which ensures the interests of countries are equally preserved.
They also opened the door for discussions on energy relationship with the United States, in particular about liquefied natural gas (LNG), which the U.S. is keen on selling in Europe.
According to the source, they reaffirmed that they will "not negotiate with a gun at its head", but they said they are ready to talk with the USA once its decides on a permanent tariffs exemption for the EU.