World

'With friends like Trump, who needs enemies?'

'With friends like Trump, who needs enemies?'

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.

Tusk also said that Europe should be grateful for Mr. Trump "because thanks to him, we have got rid of all illusions".

The leaders will also discuss Trump's steel and aluminum tariffs, which could be slapped on the European Union after June 1.

"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 USA administration", Tusk said.

Tensions came to a head with the USA president's decision announced last week to pull out of the landmark Iran nuclear accord which the remaining signatories-Russia, China, France, Germany and the United Kingdom, along with the EU-say is working and they will strive to keep in place.

The options being discussed include new credit lines for Iran, increased energy co-operation and the use of EU laws to block European companies from caving in to US sanctions.

The French firm signed a deal with Tehran in July 2017 to develop phase 11 of Iran's South Pars field, marking the first major Western energy investment in the long isolated country since the lifting of sanctions. Trump's decision to pull out of the Paris climate change accord and the 2015 nuclear deal with Iran threaten Europe's own foreign policy, which was long complementary to Washington's.

Tusk said the USA 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.

Even by the stressed standards of relations between Europe and the United States in the Trump era, European Council President Donald Tusk's Wednesday criticisms were unusually cutting.

"Looking at the latest decisions of President Trump, some could even think: 'With friends like that, who needs enemies?"' Tusk told reporters on Wednesday before a summit of European Union leaders in the Bulgarian capital, Sofia.

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

Tusk said that at the May 16 dinner, "I will propose we stick to our guns".

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

But the reach of the US financial system, the dominance of the dollar and the presence of European companies' operations in the United States all weaken any potential EU measures. "The EU can't compel or really protect the private sector", Sanam Vakil, associate fellow at Chatham House said of Total's announcement.