WASHINGTON, July 1 (Xinhua) -- The White House on Sunday welcomed the full embargo of oil imports from Iran by the European Union (EU), calling on the Islamic republic to pursue "substantive " negotiations over its disputed nuclear program.
"This collective decision of the 27 countries of the EU represents a substantial additional commitment on the part of our European allies and partners to seek a peaceful resolution that addresses the international community's concerns about Iran's nuclear program," White House spokesman Jay Carney said in a statement.
"The U.S. and the EU are committed to holding Iran accountable for failing to meet its international obligations," he said, calling the EU's move "an essential part of our concerted diplomatic efforts to present Iran with a clear choice between isolation or meeting its obligations."
Washington imposed a new round of sanctions of its own last Thursday, targeting financial institutions of any country that buys Iranian oil. However, it has exempted 20 economies from the sanctions for a period of 180 days.
As oil export is the lifeline of Iran's economy, the sweeping sanctions by the U.S. and EU are regarded as the best hope for forcing Iran to change its course over its nuclear program.
Iran, following three rounds of negotiations over its uranium enrichment program since mid-April, has agreed to meet again with the U.S., Britain, France, Russia, China and Germany, the so- called P5+1, in Istanbul, Turkey, on July 3 at the expert level.
"Iran has an opportunity to pursue substantive negotiations, beginning with expert level talks this week in Istanbul, and must take concrete steps toward a comprehensive resolution of the international community's concerns with Iran's nuclear activities, " Carney said.
Iran insists on the peaceful nature of its nuclear activities, which the Western countries doubt are being used to produce nuclear weapons.