EU's Donald Tusk takes aim at Donald Trump over Iran, trade tariffs

Howard TerryMay 17, 2018

European Council President Donald Tusk has lashed out at US President Donald Trump for his recent "capricious" decisions, including on the Iran nuclear deal, saying with friends like Washington, Europe does not need enemies.

The letter appeared to confirm fears that pulling out of the Iran deal, which was strongly supported by European leaders like French president Emmanuel Macron, British Prime Minister Theresa May and German Chancellor Angela Merkel, could cause a rift in the relationship between the United States and long-standing allies.

That came a day after many European newspapers featured dueling photographs on their front pages: the beaming visage of first daughter Ivanka Trump opening the new US Embassy in Jerusalem, and the smoky carnage an hour's drive away in Gaza, where scores of Palestinian protesters were killed by the Israeli military.

"The EU and USA are friends and partners, therefore United States tariffs can not be justified on the basis of national security", Tusk said.

But thanks to Trump, he said, "we have got rid of all illusions".

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

On Trump's decision to impose tariffs on steel and aluminium imports, a move the European Union has warned could spark a trade war, the leaders also presented a united front. Tusk said he wanted Europe to "stick to our guns" and described Trump's justification of tariffs on the basis of national security as "absurd".

"The broader US-EU security relationship is at risk", a former US envoy to the EU, Anthony Gardner, told the European Parliament on Wednesday.

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

The US has found itself at odds with much of Europe following its decision to pull out of the 2015 Iran nuclear deal signed between Iran and the EU, Russia, China, and the US.

Marking the importance of Thursday's summit with Western Balkan partners, Tusk said the event would be "an opportunity for both sides to reaffirm that the European perspective remains the Western Balkans' geostrategic choice".

"The extra-territorial dimension of USA sanctions is unacceptable. We need to bring reality back into this discussion". Later, Washington extended the exemptions for the European Union, Canada and Mexico for 30 days in order to make time for talks on the terms of steel and aluminum imports.

Tusk also mentioned looking into ways to protect European companies from "negative consequences of the U.S. decision".

They also opened the door for discussions on energy relationship with the United States, in particular about liquefied natural gas (LNG), which the USA is keen on selling in Europe.

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