Published: Thu, May 17, 2018
Worldwide | By Jermaine Blake

Tusk: Trump 'helped European Union rid itself of its illusions'

Tusk: Trump 'helped European Union rid itself of its illusions'

The fallout from his decision to abandon the Iran nuclear deal last week continues around the world, and on Wednesday the head of the European Council went after President Trump.

In a letter to European Union leaders ahead of their meeting Wednesday night in Sofia, Donald Tusk said that with friends like Donald Trump, the European Union could ask who needs enemies.

Reiterating the position of France, Germany and the United Kingdom, the three European powers that helped broker the Iran nuclear agreement, Tusk said that the EU would remain committed to the deal as long as Tehran fulfilled its obligations.

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

The EU should also be "grateful to President Trump", Tusk said, "because thanks to him we have got rid of all illusions. We realize that if you need a helping hand, you will find one at the end of your arm", the European Council president said in a Tweet tagging the USA president.

European Commissioner Dimitris Avramopoulos said the EU was willing to a so-called blocking statute that would make it illegal for European companies to comply with U.S. sanctions imposed on Iran and not recognize United States court decisions that enforce American sanctions.

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Before a dinner with European Union leaders, including the UK's prime minister, Mr Tusk said: "I have no doubt that in the new global game, Europe will either be one of the major players, or a pawn". 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".

The French energy giant Total said Wednesday that it will cease operations in Iran by November in order to avoid USA sanctions, while the Danish shipping firm Maersk and German insurer Alianz also have signaled their intentions of pulling out of Iran unless the companies secure tariff exemptions from Washington.

"I have no doubt that in the new global game, Europe will either be one of the major players, or a pawn. It's a moment of truth for Europe", he said.

The EU leaders were also due to discuss the deaths of dozens of Palestinians in Gaza after Trump moved the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem, in another move that the Europeans had strongly opposed, but there were no details on that discussion.

Belgian Prime Minister Charles Michel earlier this week linked Monday's deadly violence at the Israel-Gaza border to the USA decision to hold a ceremony for its embassy move to Jerusalem.

Some European officials have also suggested the EU trigger a 1996 rule - known as the blocking regulation - which aims to limit the effect of global sanctions with which the EU does not agree.

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