Friday 15 December 2017

Trump praises EU for 'getting its act together'

US President Donald Trump welcomes Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi to the White House in Washington. Photo: Reuters
US President Donald Trump welcomes Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi to the White House in Washington. Photo: Reuters

David Hughes

Donald Trump has praised the European Union's response to Brexit, claiming the UK's withdrawal from the bloc could be a "very good thing" for both parties.

The US president, who boasted that he "predicted Brexit", has enthusiastically supported the decision taken by UK voters in the EU referendum.

But he struck a more conciliatory tone about the future of the bloc than in previous comments, claiming the 27 other members were "getting their act together" and it had become less likely that other countries would follow the UK's example.

"I think Brexit is very good for the UK, it is going to be very good for UK," he said in an interview with the 'Financial Times'.

"I would have thought when it happened that more would follow, but I really think the European Union is getting its act together. It could be a very good thing for both."

He added: "If you would have asked me that the day after the election...I would have said, 'Yeah, it will start to come apart'. But they have done a very good job and - I am meeting with them very soon - they have done a very good job in bringing it back together."

Angela Merkel. Photo: Reuters
Angela Merkel. Photo: Reuters

Mr Trump, who frequently criticised German Chancellor Angela Merkel during his presidential campaign, insisted he had a "great" meeting with her.

The talks in March included an awkward moment when Mr Trump appeared to decline a handshake with the German Chancellor in front of the press.

"I had a great meeting with her, I really liked her. She said the same thing to me," Mr Trump said.

He said the centre ground in Europe appeared to be holding: "I think they've done a better job since Brexit. I think they have done a better job."

There is a "different spirit" that was not there "when they were fighting with the UK".

"I actually think it is going to be a great deal for the UK, and I think it is going to be really, really good also for the European Union," he said.

The president used the interview to warn that he was prepared to take unilateral action to eliminate the nuclear threat from North Korea unless China increases pressure on the regime in Pyongyang.

"Well, if China is not going to solve North Korea, we will. That is all I am telling you," he said.

Meanwhile, Mrs Merkel has said that the European Union should try to limit the fallout from Britain's decision to leave, conceding that some damage was inevitable.

"This is an incision for the European Union, it's an unfortunate event - Britain's decision," Mrs Merkel told a joint news conference with Slovakian Prime Minister Robert Fico and Czech Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka in Berlin.

"We want to limit the damage. But there will naturally be some negative impact," Mrs Merkel said, adding that it was more important that the remaining 27 EU member states stick together and improve the competitiveness of the bloc.

Irish Independent

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