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Donald Against Donald: Tusk 'Thanks' Trump for Iran Nuclear Deal Failure

17 May 2018

European Union chief Donald Tusk hit out at US President Donald Trump today, accusing Washington of "capricious assertiveness" in abandoning the Iran nuclear deal and imposing trade tariffs on Europe. European ministers met with a top Iranian official in Brussels on Tuesday in a bid to save the Iranian nuclear accord after Trump made a decision to pull out.

Mr. Tusk's tweet, however, was one of the more notable, public denunciations of Mr. Trump's decision making by a European leader, as a series of moves on trade, Israel and other issues has increasingly put traditional allies at odds with the administration in Washington.

Mr Tusk said: "Besides 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".

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

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French energy giant Total joined other European companies in signalling on Wednesday they could exit Iran, casting doubt on whether European leaders meeting to try to salvage the Iran nuclear deal can safeguard trade with Tehran.

Tusk said the United States appeared to be hesitating in hitting European companies doing business in Iran with sanctions, but the bloc still needed to be ready to protect its interests.

The EU's top energy official, Commissioner Miguel Arias Canete, is meanwhile heading to Iran on May 18-21 for talks on energy cooperation, a symbolic gesture from the EU that it wants to stay engaged despite the USA withdrawal.

"The broader US-EU security relationship is at risk", a former US envoy to the EU, Anthony Gardner, told the European Parliament on Wednesday.

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While the European Union says these are two distinct issues, leaders are likely to lump both together in a wide-ranging discussion over dinner on how to respond to Trump's provocations. "That means permanent exemptions from USA tariffs on aluminium and steel".

But the 28 EU leaders did not make any quick decisions during their first meeting on the matter since Trump quit the accord earlier this month, highlighting how USA clout in global trade and finance limits the Europeans' scope for action. "The EU can't compel or really protect the private sector", Sanam Vakil, associate fellow at Chatham House said of Total's announcement.

Trump's decision to relocate the US embassy to the contested city of Jerusalem will also be raised.

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, the conflict's bloodiest day in years.

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Donald Against Donald: Tusk 'Thanks' Trump for Iran Nuclear Deal Failure