Saturday, 19 October 2019

Theresa arrives for talks with Obama and EU leaders

BERLIN: Theresa May has arrived for talks with European leaders and outgoing US president Barack Obama in Berlin. The prime minister was greeted by Angela Merkel, the German chancellor, who is hosting the talks. European leaders are meeting to discuss a range of global issues, in particular the threat posed by so-called Islamic State fighters fleeing their Middle East strongholds. But May and the leaders of Germany, France, Italy and Spain are also meeting Mr Obama, whose ‘farewell’ visit to Europe visit comes amid uncertainty and nervousness among European leaders over the election of Donald Trump. The six leaders – representing five of the G7 members – will discuss “pressing global issues” including extending sanctions against Russia for its intervention in Ukraine and possible new sanctions for its bombing of Syria.

They will also talk about the threat from IS in Iraq, Syria and Libya, and discuss mass migration and trade issues, according to the Prime Minister’s spokesperson. Mrs May is also due to have a bilateral meeting with Chancellor Merkel to discuss Brexit – although the Prime Minister has no other formal meetings with the leaders of France, Italy or Spain. It comes after President Obama issued a parting snub to the “special relationship”, naming the German leader as his closest international partner of the last eight years. President Obama and Chancellor Merkel issued a joint rebuttal to the incoming era of Mr Trump on Thursday, penning an op-ed for more transatlantic cooperation on security, climate trade and trade. While never mentioning the incoming president by name, the two leaders upbraided some of Mr Trump’s foreign policy positions.  They praised the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) – which Mr Trump has cast doubt over – as the cornerstone of peace. Mr Obama and Mrs Merkel also reiterated their commitment and support for the Paris Agreement to cut global emissions, an accord from which Mr Trump has threatened to withdraw.

The leaders’ statements after the summit will be watched carefully to see how President Obama and his European allies position themselves in relation to the President-elect. European leaders will want guidance from Mr Obama on his successor’s approach to NATO, after the President said last week that Donald Trump wanted to maintain NATO relationships after a meeting with his successor in the White House.

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