The Latest: EU calls on US to stick to Iran nuclear deal

U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, left, shakes hands with EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini at the EU Council building in Brussels on Tuesday, Dec. 5, 2017. U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson visited European Union headquarters on Tuesday to assess trans-Atlantic relations. (AP Photo/Virginia Mayo, Pool)
FILE - In this Feb. 2, 2017 file photo German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel, left, talks with Secretary of State Rex Tillerson before their meeting at the State Department in Washington. Germany’s foreign minister said at a foreign policy conference Tuesday, Dec. 5, 2017 that Europe needs to act more decisively to defend its values and interests, if necessary by standing up to the United States. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon, file)

BRUSSELS — The Latest on U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson's trip to Europe (all times local):

8 a.m.

The European Union's top diplomat says the United States stepping away from a landmark nuclear deal would be counterproductive and insisted other disputes with Tehran should be tackled otherwise.

Federica Mogherini said Tuesday after a meeting with U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson that the EU attaches great importance on upholding the agreement, adding that scrapping the deal "would not put us in a better position to discuss all the rest, on the contrary."

Under the 2015 accord, Iran curbed its nuclear program in exchange for an easing of international economic sanctions.

Tillerson stressed, however, that "Iran is carrying out a number of other destabilizing activities throughout the region" and called for joint action to counter it.


10:20 a.m.

U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson says the State Department is "not missing a beat" despite the criticism he's receiving and high rates of vacancies throughout the department.

Tillerson is giving his most extensive public comments since news reports last week that the White House was considering a plan to fire him. Tillerson says he gets criticism for leaving key ambassadorships vacant. He's speaking in Brussels, where there is no U.S. ambassador to either Belgium or the European Union.

Tillerson says the department doesn't have any "wins yet" but that some "quick wins" are coming in the next few weeks. He's not specifying what they are, but he says the State Department is making progress on his planned overhaul.

Tillerson says the first two phases of the "reorganization" are complete and now starts the third phase, focused on execution. He says he'll discuss it more during town hall meetings before year's end.


2:00 a.m.

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson is touring Europe this week amid questions about whether he truly speaks for President Donald Trump.

After months of rumors that Tillerson would either quit or be fired, the White House signaled last week it would most likely be the latter — and possibly soon. White House officials told multiple news organizations a plan was afoot to oust Tillerson and replace him with CIA Director Mike Pompeo.

Tillerson says the reports are "laughable" and Trump tweeted it was "fake news." Yet such damage to his standing is not so easily erased.

In Belgium, Austria and France this week, Tillerson will contend with European officials now questioning how much credence to give his policies, and if he'll even be in place long enough to see them through.

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