Sunday 21 January 2018

Obama urges UK and EU to preserve their close ties

German Chancellor Angela Merkel speaks during a joint news conference with U.S. President Barack Obama in Berlin. Photo: Reuters
German Chancellor Angela Merkel speaks during a joint news conference with U.S. President Barack Obama in Berlin. Photo: Reuters

Justin Huggler in Berlin

BARACK Obama yesterday said he hoped Brexit negotiations would be conducted in a "transparent fashion", as he called on Britain and Europe to preserve close ties during his last state visit to Germany.

"I hope that the negotiations over Britain's withdrawal from the EU will be conducted in a smooth and orderly and transparent fashion" and will preserve as much as possible the economic and security relationship between the UK and the EU, the out-going US president told a press conference in Berlin.

Mr Obama was speaking after talks with Angela Merkel, which were widely seen as a symbolic passing of the torch of his legacy to the German chancellor following the election of Donald Trump.

"I think the EU is one of the greatest achievements of the world," Mr Obama said. "You have to preserve those achievements and fight for them."

Today British Prime Minister Theresa May will join Mr Obama and Mrs Merkel in Berlin for a mini-summit with the leaders of France, Italy and Spain.

In frank and outspoken comments yesterday, Mr Obama called for Mr Trump to stand up to Russia.

"My hope is that the president-elect does not see this as a purely realpolitik opportunity, if we just cut some deals with Russia, even if it hurts people or even if it violates international norms or even if it leaves smaller countries vulnerable, or creates long-term problems in regions like Syria, that we just do whatever is convenient at the time," he said.

"I hope the president-elect is also willing to stand up to Russia where they are deviating from our values and international norms."

Mr Obama and Mrs Merkel sought to present a united front in the face of concerns over future relations under Mr Trump. "I will do everything I can to work well with the newly elected president," Mrs Merkel said.

But there were clear signs of potential divisions ahead as she spoke of the importance of climate protection, and her hope that stalled trade deal negotiations between the EU and US could be restarted.

Mr Obama said he was "cautiously optimistic" about his successor and said Mr Trump had committed himself to the importance of maintaining Nato at the heart of security policy. But Mrs Merkel conceded that Nato's European members would have to take up a greater share of the cost of the alliance - a key demand of Mr Trump. (© Daily Telegraph London)

Irish Independent

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