European Leaders Reaffirm Commitment to Retaliate on Tariffs

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(Bloomberg) -- European leaders reaffirmed their commitment to protect the region’s trade interests and address elements of a nuclear accord with Iran, even as attempts to lobby the U.S. president on those issues last week appeared to have failed.

France’s Emmanuel Macron and Germany’s Angela Merkel made separate trips to Washington in recent days to persuade President Donald Trump to grant the European Union a reprieve from U.S. tariffs, as well as remain in a nuclear deal. With no indications that Trump has eased his stance on either issue, Merkel and Macron discussed next steps with U.K. Prime Minister Theresa May by phone this weekend, according to statements from Berlin and London.

“The three reiterated a preference for the United States to remain in the nuclear agreement with Iran,” German government spokesman Steffen Seibert said in one of the statements.

Trump has long signaled his displeasure with the nuclear pact, saying it offered relief to the Islamic Republic without addressing the country’s ballistic missile program or its support for groups the U.S. considers to be terrorist organizations.

The European leaders “reaffirmed their willingness to engage in a broader framework of additional agreements with all parties on the duration of nuclear restraints and other issues, in particular Iran’s ballistic missile program and its regional role,” Seibert said.

They also agreed to maintain a firm stance on defending the European Union’s interests should the U.S. not grant the region a permanent exemption from tariffs on steel and aluminum. An initial exemption granted to the EU is set to expire Monday night, and Trump has insisted he wants economic or security concessions from countries seeking a permanent waiver.

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