An EU source said after the talks the leaders agreed to start "work to protect European companies negatively affected by the US decision".
EU discussions on how to keep the deal - and economic relations with Iran - alive, have focused on: keeping Iran's oil and gas industry viable; the creation of special objective vehicles to allow for transactions between the regions; developing more contracts between European companies and their Iranian counterparts; and how to protect European firms that continue to work with Iran. They are now scrambling to protect European Union companies doing business in Iran before the United States reimposes sanctions on Iran after the expiry of 90- and 180-day wind-down periods.
'This agreement is everything other than ideal, but Iran is, according to all the knowledge of the worldwide nuclear authorities, sticking to the commitments of the agreement, ' stated Merkel.
Convinced that the USA move breaks global trade rules, the European Union has drawn up a list of "rebalancing" duties worth some 2.8 billion euros (US$3.4 billion) to impose on USA products if it is not permanently exempt.
European Union chief Donald Tusk hit out at US President Donald Trump today, accusing Washington of "capricious assertiveness" in abandoning the Iran nuclear deal and imposing trade tariffs on Europe.
Earlier in the day, German Chancellor Angela Merkel also stressed the importance of preserving relations with Washington despite what she called "all the difficulties we have had in the past few days".
"Looking at latest decisions of [Trump] someone could even think: with friends like that who needs enemies", wrote Donald Tusk, president of the European Council.
Mr. Tusk's tweet, however, was one of the more notable, public denunciations of Mr. Trump's decision making by a European leader, as a series of moves on trade, Israel and other issues has increasingly put traditional allies at odds with the administration in Washington.
The EU will continue to support the Iran deal "as long as Iran respects the deal" but will address United States concerns over Iran's role in the Middle East crisis and its ballistic missile programme.
He said Europe didn't need enemies when it had friends like the United States. The meeting is due on May 25.
President Hassan Rouhani said Trump had expected Iran to leave the deal after the USA withdrawal, but Tehran had refused to follow that plan by trying to save the deal with its remaining signatories.
Iran said the new USA sanctions were an attempt to derail efforts to save the nuclear deal.
"Trump played his first card, but miscalculated the second move", Rouhani was quoted as saying by the ISNA agency.