EU urges Trump to protect world order, dismisses foe claim

July 16, 2018 4:26 pm
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Tusk warned in Beijing that the trade tensions could spiral into a “hot conflict” © AFP / WANG ZHAO

, Brussels, Belgium, Jul 16 – EU leaders and top diplomats urged US President Donald Trump to protect the world order at his summit on Monday with Vladimir Putin and dismissed his assertion that Europe was a US trade foe.

Trump triggered fresh concerns from European Council President Donald Tusk at an EU-China summit in Beijing, and from EU foreign ministers in Brussels, one of whom urged the US president to stand up for non-EU Ukraine and Georgia against Russia.

Trump said the European Union was a foe in trade while also calling Russia and China foes in some respects, before his summit with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Helsinki.

“America and the EU are best friends. Whoever says we are foes is spreading fake news,” Tusk tweeted late Sunday from Beijing, without naming Trump directly.

Trump often uses the term “fake news” when he disagrees with news reports.

“Europe and China, America and Russia, today in Beijing and in Helsinki, are jointly responsible for improving the world order, not for destroying it,” Tusk said in a separate tweet.

“I hope this message reaches Helsinki,” the former Polish premier added.

Tusk echoed broader fears that Trump is tearing down the post World War II order in which the United States built a system of alliances and rules to advance peace and prosperity.

Trump told CBS’s Face the Nation on Sunday that “I think the European Union is a foe, what they do to us in trade,” adding Russia was also an enemy in some respects and that China was an economic foe.

– Trump’s enemy is ‘whole world’ –

The Trump administration has slapped tariffs on steel and aluminium imports from Europe as well as on products from Mexico, Canada and China, sparking retaliation and fears of a global trade war.

Tusk warned in Beijing that trade tensions could spiral into a “hot conflict.”

The Financial Times reported meanwhile that the Trump administration has rejected an EU call for an exemption from fresh US sanctions on companies operating in Iran.

The EU opposed Trump’s decision to scrap a deal with Iran to curb its nuclear ambitions and go ahead with new sanctions on firms doing business with Tehran.

EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini repeated remarks that a change in US administration does not mean a change in friendship, adding Europe will always “be close friends and partners” with Washington.

But Mogherini, speaking to reporters upon arriving for talks with EU foreign ministers, said Europe has many other friends in the world, citing in particular Japan, with which it is signing a massive trade deal on Tuesday.

“It seems the whole world is his enemy,” French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves le Drian told reporters, adding Trump’s remarks should be taken with a grain of salt.

Belgian Foreign Minister Didier Reynders urged Trump to stand up for Ukraine and Georgia, countries on Europe’s periphery where Russia has either invaded or backed break-away pro-Moscow rebels against the central government.

“It is very important to us to reaffirm our solidarity with the Ukraine and Georgia, the sovereignty of these two countries, the territorial integrity,” he said.

During last week’s summit in Brussels, Trump fuelled fears again about his commitment to NATO when he denounced European allies for falling short on spending pledges for the alliance.

In the run-up to the NATO summit, Tusk delivered a blunt message to Trump to appreciate his European allies, adding Washington does not have many others.

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