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'With friends like Trump, who needs enemies?'

17 May 2018, 12:48 | Marta Robbins

President Trump speaks with Donald Tusk in Brussels

European Union chief accuses U.S. under President Trump of 'capricious assertiveness'

"Besides the 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", Tusk said.

He said that the EU leaders should also get an update from EU foreigh policy chief Federica Mogherini, while European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker will "share his thoughts on how the interests of the European companies engaged in economic cooperation with Iran can be best preserved".

"He has made us realize that, if you need a helping hand, you will find one at the end of your arm", he said, according to the Reuters news agency.

European Council President Donald Tusk lashed out at the U.S. president, blasting his decision to pull out from the Iranian nuclear deal and stirring up trade disputes with other countries, and lamenting that one does not need enemies with friends like Trump.

European leaders will gather in Sofia to mainly discuss the EU's commitment towards enlargement talks focused around Western Balkan regions, but the US President's actions have seemingly hijacked the agenda.

Tusk said that he would ask three leaders who are signatories to the Iran nuclear deal - UK Prime Minister Theresa May, German Chancellor Angela Merkelt and French President Emanuel Macron - to present their assessment of the situation following the United States withdrawal. This is the only real alternative.

'I want leaders to reconfirm that the European Union sticks to the deal as long as Iran does. To the dismay of European Union leaders, Trump also pulled out of the Paris climate accords, moved the US embassy in Israel to Jerusalem, and imposed unilateral tariffs on steel against some trading partners.

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Merkel however said that Europe had no choice but to stick with the ties that have bound it to Washington since World War II.

"As we know, the United States tariffs on steel and aluminium can not be justified on the grounds of national security", Tusk said.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel has strongly backed efforts to develop a collective European approach towards Trump's unilateralism, but she told the lower house Bundestag on Wednesday she remained determined to support trans-Atlantic relations.

President of the European Commission Jean-Claude Juncker also remarked last week that the European Union should replace the United States as a global leader after the latter "as an worldwide actor has lost vigor, and because of it, in the long term, influence".

This move sparked discontent among the key United States trading partners, especially the EU.

Tusk said that at the May 16 dinner, "I will propose we stick to our guns".

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



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