EU member states have agreed in principle to ban imports of Iranian crude oil to put pressure on the country over its nuclear programme.
The move is expected to be announced formally at an EU foreign ministers' meeting at the end of January. The US, which recently imposed fresh sanctions on Iran, welcomed the news.
Iran has dismissed the threat of new sanctions and denies Western claims that it is trying to develop a nuclear weapons programme. Iran has also denied that a record low of its currency this week was linked to punitive US measures against its banks.
Oil prices on international markets rose on news of the EU agreement.
"We have an [EU] foreign ministers' meeting on January 30, and on this occasion I hope we will be able to take the decision on the embargo of oil and petrol from Iran", said French Foreign Minister Alain Juppe.>>>
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