Sofia summit: European Union leaders search for a Trump strategy

Anadolu Agency  Anadolu

Anadolu Agency Anadolu

"But frankly speaking, Europe should be grateful to President Trump, because thanks to him we have got rid of all illusions".

European leaders sought unity on Wednesday toward threatened US import tariffs on steel and aluminium, balancing the views of those most fearful of a trade war and those determined not to be bullied into concessions.

The 28 anxious EU leaders are gathering in the Bulgarian capital for discussions on how to salvage the nuclear deal and European business dealings with Iran from Trump's sanctions.

"I have no doubt that in the new global game", Tusk said, "Europe will either be one of the major players or will be a pawn".

The 28 European Union leaders meeting in Sofia were not expected to reach any quick conclusions on how to try to shield their economic cooperation with Iran. The United States has withdrawn from the Iran nuclear deal, posing a threat to European companies doing business there, and has blocked appointments to the World Trade Organization, undermining its ability to settle trade disputes.

"Following last week's announcement of the United States withdrawal from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action with Iran, we need a united European front", he wrote.

European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker and EU foreign policy chief will outline to the leaders what measures the bloc could take to shield its now substantial economic interests in Iran, Tusk added.

He said such decisions could make one think that "with friends like that, who needs enemies?" During a speech on Wednesday to the German Parliament, she also said it would be wrong to cancel the nuclear agreement with Iran and called the decision to pull out of the accord "troubling news".

They also agreed to "initiate work to protect European companies negatively affected by the USA decision", which involves Washington reimposing sanctions on the Iranian nuclear programme.

There is likely to be little or no Brexit discussions as the British Prime Minster alongside Angela Merkel and Emmanuel Macron will "present their assessment of the situation" surrounding the Iran nuclear deal, according to Mr Tusk. The three countries were European Union signatories of the 2015 deal that gave Iran sanctions relief in exchange for curbing its nuclear programme but which Trump dismissed as "the worst deal ever".

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

"The EU and US are friends and partners".

Behind their message of unity and firmness, some member states seem open to tolerating limited quotas from the United States on metals imports while others want a harder line, diplomats said.

The EU is also unimpressed by Trump's decision to place tariffs on European steel and aluminium as part of his "America first" agenda. This decision led to clashes between Palestinians and Israeli military in the Gaza strip, during which killed 59 people, reminiscent of "Bagnet".

European leaders will seek to agree a common stance on Wednesday towards threatened USA import tariffs on steel and aluminium, balancing the views of those most fearful of a trade war and those determined not to be bullied into concessions.

But there are divisions over the embassy move within the European Union itself, with the Czech Republic, Hungary and Romania having recently blocked an European Union statement slamming the USA decision.

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