Sunday 16 December 2018

Trump says EU his worst foe ahead of Putin meeting

U.S. President Donald Trump and Russia's President Vladimir Putin. Photo: Jorge Silva/Reuters
U.S. President Donald Trump and Russia's President Vladimir Putin. Photo: Jorge Silva/Reuters

Julie Allen

Donald Trump described the European Union as top of his list of global foes yesterday while downplaying expectations of his summit with Vladimir Putin in Helsinki today.

During an interview with US TV network NBC, filmed at his Turnberry golf course in Scotland at the end of his UK visit, the US president was asked to identify his “biggest competitor, his biggest foe”.

To the surprise of many, he listed the EU – ahead of both Russia and China.

Mr Trump said: “Well, I think we have a lot of foes. I think the European Union is a foe, what they do to us on trade. Now you wouldn’t think of the European Union, but they’re a foe.

“I respect the leaders of those countries – but in a trade sense, they’ve really taken advantage of us. And many of those countries are in Nato and they weren’t paying their bills.”

His comments came hours before he was due to leave Britain for Helsinki for his one-to-one with Mr Putin.

Mr Trump said Russia was also a foe “in many respects” and also called China an “economic foe”.

At the Finnish Presidential Palace, which will host Mr Trump and Mr Putin, last-minute preparations were under way as at least 2,000 protesters gathered outside. Yet it was still unclear what would be on the agenda for discussion between the pair.

Mr Trump remained vague about his goals.

“I go in with low expectations,” he said, “I’m not going with high expectations. I think that getting along with Russia is a good thing but it’s possible we won’t.”

When questioned about his objectives, he said: “I’ll let you know after the meeting.”

Asked if he would seek extradition of the 12 Russians spies indicted by the US Attorney General’s office on Friday for hacking into the Democratic National Committee, he remained equivocal.

“Well, I might,” he said. “I hadn’t thought of that. But certainly I’ll be asking about it.”

John Bolton, his National Security Adviser, said yesterday that the subjects up for discussion remained fluid.

“We have asked, and the Russians have agreed, that it will be basically unstructured. We are not looking for concrete deliverables.”

He added that it was “hard to believe” that Mr Putin did not know about his regime’s meddling in the 2016 US election but said extradition was unlikely.

But a senior House of Representatives Republican told CBS’s ‘Face the Nation’ that Mr Trump should ask Putin in Helsinki which airport the Russian hackers will be extradited to for being taken into US custody.

“Tell us where you’re going to extradite those folks,” said Trey Gowdy.

Meanwhile, police have charged a 55-year-old man over a protest in which a paraglider flew within metres of the US president at his golf course in Scotland.

A demonstrator trailing a banner reading ‘Trump well below par’ flew past the president at his Turnberry resort in Ayrshire on Friday, as protests took place across Britain over his controversial visit.

The stunt, by environmental group Greenpeace, was condemned by police, who said the activist had

placed themselves in “grave danger” as snipers watched from the hotel’s roof.

Irish Independent

Today's news headlines, directly to your inbox every morning.

Editors Choice

Also in World News