Who needs enemy whey you have friends like Trump: EU Chief

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European Union President Donald Tusk slammed US President Donald Trump on Wednesday, as EU leaders gathered for a summit in Sofia to find a common path forward after Washington withdrew from the Iran nuclear deal.

Members of the European Council will discuss ways they might be able to salvage the Iran nuclear deal now that President Trump has opted to back out of the agreement during their summit in Bulgaria this week.

"Looking at latest decisions of [Trump] someone could even think: with friends like that who needs enemies", wrote Donald Tusk, president of the European Council.

However he described the European Union as a "friend and partner" and added the bloc must strive to protect transatlantic ties.

But with the United States saying it had pulled out of the deal because of broader worries about Tehran's actions, the leaders said they would also "address concerns about Iran's role in the region, Iran's ballistic missile programme and what happens after 2025".

Listing Europe's traditional challenges, ranging from the expanding power of China to the belligerence of Russia, Tusk said: "We are witnessing today a new phenomenon, the capricious assertiveness of the American administration".

They also agreed to "initiate work to protect European companies negatively affected by the U.S. decision", which involves Washington reimposing sanctions on Iran. "This is the only real alternative".

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 USA sanctions imposed on Iran and not recognize USA court decisions that enforce American sanctions.

The letter appeared to confirm fears that pulling out of the Iran deal, which was strongly supported by European leaders like French president Emmanuel Macron, British Prime Minister Theresa May and German Chancellor Angela Merkel, could cause a rift in the relationship between the United States and long-standing allies.

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.

Merkel however said earlier that Europe had no choice but to stick with the ties that have bound it to Washington since World War II.

"Despite all the difficulties we have these days, the transatlantic relations are and will remain of outstanding importance", Merkel told the German parliament. And my objective is simple: we stick to our guns, ' stated Tusk.

It was crucial, he said, that the European Union stuck to its guns and refused to talk trade with the USA until it received a permanent exemption from punitive tariffs on steel and aluminium imposed by Washington on the grounds of national security.

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