EU Chief Tusk Slams Trump Over Trade, Iran

With friends like Donald Trump, who needs enemies: European Union chief

EU Chief Tusk Slams Trump Over Trade, Iran

At the outset of a summit of European leaders whose agenda items, point by point, have to do with the flames of crises that many Europeans see as ignited by President Donald Trump, Tusk ripped into what he called "the capricious assertiveness of the American administration" over issues including Iran, Gaza, trade tariffs and North Korea.

"This is the line already discussed by our foreign ministers and presented by the United Kingdom, Germany and France, who are working hard to sustain the deal", he said.

"Here again, unity is our greatest strength and my objective is simple - we stick to our guns".

'This means a permanent exemption from U.S. tariffs on aluminium and steel if we are to discuss possible trade liberalisation with the US.

He added: "Besides traditional political challenges such as the rise of China, or the aggressive stance of Russian Federation, we are witnessing today a new phenomenon: the capricious assertiveness of the American administration".

At the start of an EU summit in Bulgaria, the European council president offered a withering condemnation of Trump's White House.

French energy giant Total joined other European companies in signalling on Wednesday they could exit Iran, casting doubt on whether European leaders meeting to try to salvage the Iran nuclear deal can safeguard trade with Tehran. The EU and United States are friends and partners, therefore U.S. tariffs can not be justified on the basis of national security'.

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Shortly after Trump's election, Tusk had joked that his European colleagues had taken to calling him "Our Donald".

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 United States embassy in Jerusalem, the conflict's bloodiest day in years.

But the reach of the USA financial system, the dominance of the dollar and the presence of European companies' operations in the United States all weaken any potential EU measures. He also suggested the European Union owes Trump a debt of gratitude for helping Europe to drop "all illusions". "We realise that if you need a helping hand, you will find one at the end of your arm", he said, calling on European Union "unity and determination". "But we need to be sure that we have done everything in our power, and within the limits of the worldwide trade rules, to avoid a negative scenario", Tusk said.

"Our renewed and full support for the European Commission will strengthen its position in the negotiations with the US".

'We will decide on the best way forward in EU-US trade relations.

Bulgaria, now holder of the rotating Presidency of the Council of the EU, is hosting the informal working dinner of EU leaders on the eve of the May 17 EU-Western Balkans summit in Sofia. "We did discuss the possibility of applying our blocking statute".

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