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European Union chief on Trump: "With friends like that, who needs enemies?"

European Union chief on Trump:

"Europe should be grateful for President Trump because thanks to him we have got rid of all illusions" that the European Union can rely on others for help, Tusk added.

Washington and Brussels have been at loggerheads over a number of issues since Mr Trump was inaugurated in January 2017, most recently a trade war of aluminium and steel tariffs and the Iran nuclear deal.

In a letter to European Union leaders ahead of their meeting Wednesday night in Sofia, Donald Tusk said that with friends like Donald Trump, the European Union could ask who needs enemies.

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

But the 28 EU leaders are not expected to make any quick decisions during their first meeting on the matter since Trump quit the accord, highlighting how USA clout in global trade and finance limits the Europeans' scope for action.

Marking the importance of Thursday's summit with Western Balkan partners, Tusk said the event would be "an opportunity for both sides to reaffirm that the European perspective remains the Western Balkans' geostrategic choice".

Tusk told a news conference in Sofia, Bulgaria, on Wednesday that "Europe should be grateful" to Trump since he has "rid Europe of all illusions" with the trade dispute and withdrawal from the Iran nuclear agreement, officially known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA).

European ministers met with a top Iranian official in Brussels on Tuesday in a bid to save the Iranian nuclear accord after Trump made a decision to pull out. "We realize that if you need a helping hand, you will find one at the end of your arm", the European Council president said in a Tweet tagging the USA president.

The EU and the United States have traditionally been the closest of allies, working together also via North Atlantic Treaty Organisation.

British Prime Minister Theresa May, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Emmanuel Macron - whose countries are the signatories to the Iran deal along with the US, Russia and China, gave their views on the situation to their colleagues, he said. "This means a permanent exemption from USA tariffs on aluminium and steel if we are to discuss possible trade liberalisation with the U.S".

The 28 leaders will also discuss the deaths of dozens of Palestinians in Gaza after Trump moved the United States embassy to Jerusalem, in another move that the Europeans had strongly opposed.

The remarks come as in their first meeting since the U.S. withdrawal from the JCPOA, EU leaders were expected to meet to explore options on Wednesday for keeping the Iran nuclear deal alive and protecting their reviving economic cooperation with Tehran.

The opening of the United States Embassy in Jerusalem coincided with Palestinian demonstrations in which Israeli soldiers killed 60 protesters and wounded thousands of others - the bloodiest day in the Gaza Strip since 2014.

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