Thursday, 24 May, 2018

European Union leader lights into Trump: 'With friends like that, who needs enemies?'

EU leaders struggle to save Iran economic ties from U.S. sanctions European Union leader lights into Trump: 'With friends like that, who needs enemies?'
Sammy Stanley | 16 May, 2018, 23:05

"Looking at the latest decisions of President Trump, someone could even think with friends like that who needs enemies", Tusk told reporters in the Bulgarian capital Sofia before European Union leaders met to discuss a "united front" on Trump.

He said: "We are witnessing today a new phenomenon: the capricious assertiveness of the American administration".

In remarkably frank terms, European Union commission President Donald Tusk squared off against US President Donald Trump in Sofia on Tuesday.

Trump has recently confirmed that the United States would abandon the accord with Iran signed by his predecessor Barack Obama in 2015, and renew the sanctions on Iran which the pact had ended. Leaders on Wednesday plan to discuss whether to direct European Union businesses to defy USA sanctions against Iran, an unusual measure with uncertain chances of success that would nevertheless be a diplomatic blow to Washington.

Tusk said EU leaders would use the summit to discuss the Iran deal along with innovation, the European future for the western Balkans, and Trump's trade policies.

The European Commission is refusing to open talks on wider trade terms with the United States, including import tariffs on cars - a bugbear of the U.S. president - until it receives a permanent exemption from punitive taxes on European steel and aluminium. This is the only real alternative. "He made us realize that if you need a helping hand, you will find one at the end of your arm". In order to be the subject and not the object of global politics, Europe must be united economically, politically and also militarily like never before.

Tusk added that Europe must protect the "transatlantic bond", but be prepared to act on its own, with "more political unity and determination".

Jordan: Guatemala's decision to move embassy to Jerusalem fuels violence
Meanwhile, Turkey told the Israeli Consul General in Istanbul to leave the country temporarily, state media said on Wednesday. Israel captured east Jerusalem in the 1967 Middle East war and later annexed it in a move not recognised internationally.

The EU is hoping that Iran will continue to obey the rules of the agreement as long as enough of the economic benefits promised in the deal are preserved.

The break with the US over the Iran deal is just the latest in a series of major breaches in the transatlantic relationship.

European Commissioner Dimitris Avramopoulos said the EU was willing to use legislation that would make it illegal for European companies to comply with United States sanctions imposed on Iran.

Tusk's public comments on Wednesday also touched on the new USA tariffs on steel and aluminum that are set to bite on June 1 unless Trump grants a reprieve.

The EU has called for "utmost restraint" after Israeli forces killed 60 Palestinians during clashes and protests along the Gaza border against the opening of the U.S. embassy in Jerusalem, the conflict's bloodiest day in years.

"We need to bring reality back to this discussion, which is not the case today", he said.

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