EU urges Trump to protect world order

US President Donald Trump and his wife Melania with Russian President Vladimir Putin (centre), Finnish President Sauli Niinisto and his wife Jenni Haukio in the Finnish capital yesterday. Mr Trump and Mr Putin are in Helsinki for a one-on-one summit.
US President Donald Trump and his wife Melania with Russian President Vladimir Putin (centre), Finnish President Sauli Niinisto and his wife Jenni Haukio in the Finnish capital yesterday. Mr Trump and Mr Putin are in Helsinki for a one-on-one summit.PHOTO: REUTERS
People snapping photos, taking videos and waving flags as President Trump’s motorcade passed them in Helsinki yesterday.
People snapping photos, taking videos and waving flags as President Trump’s motorcade passed them in Helsinki yesterday. PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE
EUROPEAN COUNCIL PRESIDENT DONALD TUSK
EUROPEAN COUNCIL PRESIDENT DONALD TUSK

European Council President dismisses Trump's assertion that the US and EU are trade foes

BRUSSELS • European Union (EU) leaders and top diplomats have urged US President Donald Trump to protect the world order at his summit with his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin, and dismissed Mr Trump's assertion that Europe was a US trade foe.

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

Mr Trump had said the EU was a foe in trade while also calling Russia and China foes in some respects, before his summit with President Putin in Helsinki.

"America and the EU are best friends. Whoever says we are foes is spreading fake news," Mr Tusk tweeted late on Sunday from Beijing, without naming Mr Trump directly. Mr 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," Mr Tusk said in a separate tweet.

"I hope this message reaches Helsinki," the former Polish prime minister added.

Mr Tusk echoed broader fears that Mr 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.

JOINT RESPONSIBILITY

Europe and China, America and Russia, today in Beijing and in Helsinki, are jointly responsible for improving the world order, not for destroying it... I hope this message reaches Helsinki.

EUROPEAN COUNCIL PRESIDENT DONALD TUSK, in a tweet while in Beijing for the European Union-China summit.

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

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

Mr 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 for companies operating in Iran.

The EU opposed Mr 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 Teheran.

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

 
 
 
 

But Ms Mogherini, speaking to reporters on 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 today.

"It seems the whole world is his enemy," French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian told reporters, adding that Mr Trump's remarks should be taken with a grain of salt.

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

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

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

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 17, 2018, with the headline 'EU urges Trump to protect world order'. Print Edition | Subscribe