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BEIJING, July 16, 2018 (News Wires) - EU leaders and top diplomats urged US President Donald Trump to protect the world order at his summit on Monday with Vladimir Putin and dismissed his assertion that Europe was a US trade foe.

Trump triggered fresh concerns from European Council President Donald Tusk at an EU-China summit in Beijing, and from EU foreign ministers in Brussels, one of whom urged the US president to stand up for non-EU Ukraine and Georgia against Russia.

Trump said the European Union was a foe in trade while also calling Russia and China foes in some respects, before his summit with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Helsinki.

"America and the EU are best friends. Whoever says we are foes is spreading fake news," Tusk tweeted late Sunday from Beijing, without naming Trump directly.

Trump often uses the term "fake news" when he disagrees with news reports.

"Europe and China, America and Russia, today in Beijing and in Helsinki, are jointly responsible for improving the world order, not for destroying it," Tusk said in a separate tweet.

"I hope this message reaches Helsinki," the former Polish premier added.

Tusk echoed broader fears that Trump is tearing down the post World War II order in which the United States built a system of alliances and rules to advance peace and prosperity.

Trump told CBS's Face the Nation on Sunday that "I think the European Union is a foe, what they do to us in trade," adding Russia was also an enemy in some respects and that China was an economic foe.

The Trump administration has slapped tariffs on steel and aluminium imports from Europe as well as on products from Mexico, Canada and China, sparking retaliation and fears of a global trade war.

Tusk warned in Beijing that trade tensions could spiral into a "hot conflict."

The Financial Times reported meanwhile that the Trump administration has rejected an EU call for an exemption from fresh US sanctions on companies operating in Iran.

The EU opposed Trump's decision to scrap a deal with Iran to curb its nuclear ambitions and go ahead with new sanctions on firms doing business with Tehran.

EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini repeated remarks that a change in US administration does not mean a change in friendship, adding Europe will always "be close friends and partners" with Washington.

But Mogherini, speaking to reporters upon arriving for talks with EU foreign ministers, said Europe has many other friends in the world, citing in particular Japan, with which it is signing a massive trade deal on Tuesday.

"It seems the whole world is his enemy," French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves le Drian told reporters, adding Trump's remarks should be taken with a grain of salt.

Belgian Foreign Minister Didier Reynders urged Trump to stand up for Ukraine and Georgia, countries on Europe's periphery where Russia has either invaded or backed break-away pro-Moscow rebels against the central government.

"It is very important to us to reaffirm our solidarity with the Ukraine and Georgia, the sovereignty of these two countries, the territorial integrity," he said.

During last week's summit in Brussels, Trump fuelled fears again about his commitment to NATO when he denounced European allies for falling short on spending pledges for the alliance.

In the run-up to the NATO summit, Tusk delivered a blunt message to Trump to appreciate his European allies, adding Washington does not have many others.

Moscow, July 15, 2018 (News Wires) - Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban on Sunday denounced European Union sanctions imposed on Russia, during a visit to President Vladimir Putin in Moscow ahead of the Moscow World Cup final.

Hungary has unusually warm ties with Russia for an EU member state, and Orban and Putin visit each other regularly.

"Because of these measures (sanctions imposed over Russian activity in Ukraine) we are losing opportunities," the Hungarian leader said in comments reported by Russian news agencies.

"If there were no sanctions, we would be able to cooperate more and make greater advances," he said.

Putin said relations between the two countries were developing in a positive direction.

Orban is set to attend the World Cup final between France and Croatia later in the day.

Orban has repeatedly clashed with Brussels over the rule of law and immigration, though Hungary was one of 18 EU members to expel Russian diplomats over the poisoning of a former Russian spy in Britain this year.

The Hungarian leader has said that rather than liberal democracy he favours building an "illiberal state" and praised Russia as a model.

LONDON, July 15, 2018 (News Wires) -- Prime Minister Theresa May has warned there may be "no Brexit at all" because of lawmakers' attempts to undermine her plan to leave the European Union.

"My message to the country this weekend is simple: we need to keep our eyes on the prize," May wrote in the Mail on Sunday newspaper. "If we don't, we risk ending up with no Brexit at all."

Earlier this week two senior ministers resigned in protest at May's plans for trade with the EU after Britain leaves the bloc next March. Her blueprint was then criticised in a newspaper interview by US President Donald Trump, a position he backtracked on during a meeting with May on Friday.

May also wrote in the Mail on Sunday article that Britain would take a tough stance in its next round of negotiations with the EU.

"Some people have asked whether our Brexit deal is just a starting point from which we will regress," she said. "Let me be clear. Our Brexit deal is not some long wish-list from which negotiators get to pick and choose. It is a complete plan with a set of outcomes that are non-negotiabl

KUWAIT CITY, July 13, 2018 (MENA) - Kuwaiti Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Sheikh Sabah Khaled Al-Hamad Al-Sabah met Friday with EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Federica Mogherini, the state news agency KUNA reported.

The two sides discussed ways of enhancing cooperation in all domains on the regional and international fronts. Mogherini praised the distinguished efforts exerted by Kuwait towards such issues.

She expressed hope for more coordination and cooperation between the two sides.

The meeting was attended by a number of Kuwaiti senior foreign ministry officials and Kuwait's ambassador to Belgium Jasem Al-Bedaiwi.

The Kuwaiti deputy prime minister arrived in Brussels on Thursday, leading his country's delegation to the meeting of the Global Coalition Against Daesh terrorist group.

 

 

BRUSSELS, July 10, 2018 (News Wires) - A senior European Union official lashed out Tuesday at President Donald Trump, lambasting the US leader's constant criticism of European allies and urging him to remember who his friends are when he meets Russian President Vladimir Putin next week.

On the eve of a NATO summit meant to showcase the West's unity and resolve to counter Russia, European Council President Donald Tusk directed a remark at Trump, saying "it is always worth knowing who is your strategic friend and who is your strategic problem."

NATO is keen to damp down trans-Atlantic differences during the two-day summit at its Brussels headquarters, despite divisions among the alliance's 29 members over Trump's policies on trade and his decision to withdraw from the Iran nuclear deal and an international climate agreement.

Tusk's pointed observation, offered as he signed a joint declaration with NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg, is unlikely to be the only rhetorical salvo fired this week.

"America does not have and will not have a better ally than Europe today," Tusk said. "Europeans spend on defense many times more than Russia and as much as China, and I think you can have no doubt, Mr. President, that this is an investment in common American and European defense and security, which cannot be said with confidence about Russian or Chinese spending."

Trump regularly has criticized his NATO allies for failing to spend the target of 2 per cent of gross domestic product on national defense budgets. He tweeted Tuesday morning: "Getting ready to leave for Europe. First meeting - NATO. The US is spending many times more than any other country in order to protect them."

On Monday the US president tweeted that "NATO countries must pay MORE, the United States must pay LESS. Very Unfair!"

He is expected to repeat his demands for more military spending on Wednesday.

Tusk, too, urged NATO members in Europe to increase defense spending as they promised, but he rejected Trump's claim that Washington is doing all the work.

"Dear America, appreciate your allies, after all you don't have all that many," he said.

The former Polish prime minister, who these days chairs summits of EU leaders and will take part in the NATO meeting, recalled that Europe stood at Washington's side after the Sept. 11 attacks, and that 870 European troops have fought and died in Afghanistan, including 40 from Poland.

"Mr. President, please remember about this tomorrow when we meet at the NATO summit. But above all, when you meet President Putin in Helsinki" on July 16, Tusk said.

Stoltenberg has the challenging task of chairing the first major gathering of western leaders since a Group of Seven meeting last month ended with Trump insulting the host, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

Stoltenberg praised Trump for spurring the allies into action. The NATO chief said that the Europeans and Canada are projected to spend around $266 billion more on defense by 2024.

"I would like to thank President Trump for his leadership on defense spending. It is clearly having an impact," Stoltenberg said.

Of the divisions and tensions likely to be in attendance at the Brussels meeting, he conceded that "there are disagreements and different views, and I expect actually also honest and frank discussions during the summit. But I strongly believe that NATO can continue to be the cornerstone of trans-Atlantic security despite those disagreements."

Meanwhile, Canada's Trudeau announced in Latvia that his country was extending its leadership of a multinational NATO battle group in the small Baltic nation for another four years.

 

Brussels, July 9, 2018 (News Wires) - Tokyo will now host an EU-Japan summit on July 17 to sign a free trade accord after the Japanese premier cancelled the talks in Brussels because of deadly floods at home, the European Commission said on Monday.

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe called off the trip this week to Belgium and three other countries as the death toll from flooding and landslides caused by record rains hit 100.

The summit between Abe, European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker and European Council chief was postponed until next week after the pair discussed the floods by telephone on Monday, Juncker's spokesman Margaritis Schinas said.

"The two sides agreed that the EU-Japan summit scheduled to take place in Brussels this Wednesday will instead take place in Tokyo next week on July 17," Schinas told reporters in Brussels.

"On this occasion, they will sign the economic partnership agreement and the strategic partnership agreement," Schinas said.

He added that Juncker, who heads the commission, the EU's executive arm, will fly to Tokyo from Beijing, where he will attend an EU-China summit.

Tusk had earlier said on Twitter that "in view of the tragic circumstances, we are ready to move our EU-Japan Summit from Brussels to Tokyo next week", but did not give a date.

Abe had been expected to visit Belgium, France, Saudi Arabia and Egypt from Wednesday.

Abe is now set travel to some of the areas worst affected by the flash flooding and landslides as early as Wednesday, according to local media.

The trade deal with Japan is the biggest ever signed by the European Union.

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