'With friends like that who needs enemies': Tusk lashes out at Trump

Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif leaves the EU council headquarters in Brussels Belgium

Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif leaves the EU council headquarters in Brussels Belgium

EU president Donald Tusk urged leaders meeting in Bulgaria to form a "united European front" against Trump's withdrawal from the Iranian nuclear deal and his move to impose trade tariffs on Europe. Thanks to him we got rid of all illusions.

Speaking on Wednesday, Tusk said he was "grateful" for Trump because he had made the European Union realise "if you need a helping hand, you will find one at the end of your arm".

At the outset of a summit of European leaders whose agenda items, point by point, have to do with the flames of crises that many Europeans see as ignited by President Trump, Tusk ripped into what he called "the capricious assertiveness of the American administration" over issues including Iran, Gaza, trade tariffs and North Korea.

Tusk said EU leaders would use the summit to discuss the Iran deal along with innovation, the European future for the western Balkans, and Trump's trade policies. 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".

In the Bulgarian capital Sofia for an European Union leaders' dinner that will focus largely on the fallout from Trump's recent policy moves, Tusk cited the "capricious assertiveness of the US administration" and said developing a unified response to Trump would be a main topic of discussion.

Tusk said he wanted the European leaders to "reconfirm" that they will stay in the Iran deal, as long as Tehran respects it - although Europe must now find a way to make up for the USA sanctions on Iran that Trump will reactivate. "But at the same time, we must be prepared for those scenarios, where we will have to act on our own", said Tusk, a former Polish prime minister.

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Tusk's public comments on Wednesday also touched on the new USA tariffs on steel and aluminum that are set to bite on June 1 unless Trump grants a reprieve.

President of the European Commission Jean-Claude Juncker also remarked last week that the European Union should replace the United States as a global leader after the latter "as an worldwide actor has lost vigor, and because of it, in the long term, influence".

"Europe must do everything in its power to protect - in spite of today's mood - the transatlantic bond".

Merkel however said that Europe had no choice but to stick with the ties that have bound it to Washington since World War II. The 28 leaders will also discuss the deaths of dozens of Palestinians in Gaza after Trump moved the USA embassy to Jerusalem, in another move that the Europeans had strongly opposed.

"We have enough potential to rise to the challenge, but what we need is more political unity and determination".

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