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With friends like Trump, who needs enemies — European Union chief

17 May 2018

US President Donald Trump has "rid Europe of all illusions" by quitting the Iran nuclear deal and driving trade disputes, the European Union chairman said on Wednesday, underlining the depth of trans-Atlantic discord.

European officials sounded off on the Trump administration's Iran policy on Wednesday, amid signs European companies are prepared to end business dealings with the country instead of incurring possible USA sanctions.

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 U.S. embassy in Jerusalem, in the conflict's bloodiest day in years. "He has made us realize that if you need a helping hand, you will find one at the end of your arm".

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

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A top European Union official branded President Donald Trump selfish and capricious yesterday as EU leaders met to count the likely economic damage U.S. policies might inflict on the bloc and to try to rescue the Iran nuclear deal.

Tusk said he wanted the 28 leaders over the next 24 hours to reconfirm that the European Union would stick to the deal as long as Iran did.

At the start of an EU summit in Bulgaria, the European council president offered a withering condemnation of Trump's White House.

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".

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The blocking statute was developed in 1996 to counter United States sanctions on Cuba, but has not been tested yet.

The options include protecting European companies dealing with Iran from USA sanctions, allowing the European Investment Bank to invest in Iran and coordinating euro-denominated credit lines from EU states.

British Prime Minister Theresa May, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Emmanuel Macron - whose countries are the signatories to the Iran deal along with the US, Russia and China, gave their views on the situation to their colleagues, he said.

According to the source, they reaffirmed that they will "not negotiate with a gun at its head", but they said they are ready to talk with the U.S. once its decides on a permanent tariffs exemption for the EU. "We need to bring reality back into this discussion".

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Some European officials have also suggested the EU trigger a 1996 rule - known as the blocking regulation - which aims to limit the effect of worldwide sanctions with which the EU does not agree. "We are discussing this issue with the commission and I would encourage you to press for similar assurances to protect United Kingdom nationals".

With friends like Trump, who needs enemies — European Union chief