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Merkel: We should broaden negotiating framework for Iran nuclear deal

German Chancellor Angela Merkel welcomes Slovak Prime Minister Peter Pellegrini (not pictured) in Berlin, Germany, May 2, 2018. REUTERS/Axel Schmidt

BERLIN (Reuters) - German Chancellor Angela Merkel said on Wednesday that the nuclear deal with Iran should not be canceled but its negotiating framework needed to be broadened.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu gave details on Monday of what he said was evidence of a secret Iranian nuclear weapons program, in a bid to encourage the United States to pull out this month of a 2015 nuclear deal between Iran and world powers.

Speaking to reporters in Berlin, Merkel said Iran’s missile program and its political influence in Syria needed to be discussed, adding that this was a widespread position in the European Union.

“We will continue with our argumentation, namely keeping the JCPOA (nuclear deal) plus expansion of the negotiating framework,” Merkel said.

Merkel said it was important for Israel to quickly make the information it has on Iran available to the International Atomic Energy Agency.

Roderich Kiesewetter, a senior lawmaker in Merkel’s party, said Netanyahu’s presentation included “nothing new so far” beyond information released by the IAEA in a 2015 assessment of the Iranian nuclear program.

He urged the United States to stick to the Iran deal.

“It’s important that Pompeo as the new U.S. secretary of state does not just confirm Netanyahu’s perspective, but that the IAEA gets access to all the Israeli material and can assess it,” he said. “Only this would allow a credible reassessment of the situation - if necessary at all.”

“The Iranian religious and political leadership remains dangerous. But repeating what is already known doesn’t move us forward,” he said.

Reporting by Michelle Martin, Michael Nienaber and Andrea Shalal; Editing by Hugh Lawson