Obama urges EU lead­ers to ac­cept Trump

Con­flicts in Syria and Ukraine to be dis­cussed

Kuwait Times - - FRONT PAGE -

BER­LIN: Pres­i­dent Barack Obama used a meet­ing with key Euro­pean lead­ers yes­ter­day to urge them to work with the in­com­ing ad­min­is­tra­tion of Pres­i­dent-elect Don­ald Trump and to dis­cuss steps nec­es­sary to re­solve the con­flicts in Syria and east­ern Ukraine, the White House said.

Obama’s meet­ing with the lead­ers of Ger­many, Bri­tain, France, Italy and Spain was likely his last in such a set­ting be­fore he leaves of­fice. The ses­sion ex­pands on lengthy talks he held the day be­fore with Ger­man Chan­cel­lor An­gela Merkel.

Obama didn’t speak with re­porters be­fore de­part­ing for Peru on Air Force One. The White House said Obama thanked his coun­ter­parts for their co­op­er­a­tion dur­ing his two terms in of­fice. He urged them to work on com­mon chal­lenges with a Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion on the “ba­sis of the core values that de­fine the United States and Europe as open democ­ra­cies.”

Since Obama’s ar­rival on Wed­nes­day on his sixth and last trip to Ger­many as pres­i­dent, he and Merkel have fo­cused sev­eral meet­ings on is­sues of glob­al­iza­tion and trans-At­lantic co­op­er­a­tion. The talks come largely in the con­text of what the elec­tion of Trump will mean to ef­forts to seek peace in Ukraine and Syria, the strength of the NATO al­liance, trade agree­ments, ef­forts to fight cli­mate change, and other press­ing mat­ters.

The White House said in a sum­mary of the meet­ing that the lead­ers ex­pressed grave con­cern about the hu­man­i­tar­ian sit­u­a­tion in Aleppo. They agreed that in­creased at­tacks by the Syr­ian regime and its sup­port­ers, in­clud­ing Rus­sia and Iran, should be im­me­di­ately halted. They also are call­ing for hu­man­i­tar­ian ac­cess to the city to be re­stored.

Sanc­tions against Rus­sia

On Ukraine, the White House said the lead­ers agreed that sanc­tions against Rus­sia must re­main in place un­til it meets its com­mit­ments to re­solv­ing the con­flict. At a news con­fer­ence with Obama on Thurs­day, Merkel diplo­mat­i­cally said she was ap­proach­ing the in­com­ing Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion “with an open mind.” Around the world, many are look­ing to Merkel - one of the long­est serv­ing lead­ers of a ma­jor world power, leader of Europe’s largest econ­omy and one of the big­gest US trade part­ners with the US - for lead­er­ship as Obama leaves of­fice.

Obama seemed to un­der­score that re­al­ity as he ef­fu­sively thanked Merkel for her “deep friend­ship.” He said he couldn’t “ask for a stead­ier or more re­li­able part­ner on the world stage,” while adding that if she chooses to run again for a fourth term next year, he’d vote for her - if he could.

Join­ing the two lead­ers Fri­day were the heads of coun­tries at the cen­ter of many of the Euro­pean Union’s com­ing chal­lenges. Bri­tish Prime Min­is­ter Theresa May is pre­par­ing her coun­try for ne­go­ti­a­tions to leave the trade bloc. Spain’s Prime Min­is­ter Mar­i­ano Ra­joy faces eco­nomic woes in his coun­try that have con­tributed to fi­nan­cial in­sta­bil­ity in the EU. Ital­ian Prime Min­is­ter Mat­teo Renzi’s al­ready shaky econ­omy has been rocked by tens of thou­sands of refugees. And French Pres­i­dent Fran­cois Hol­lande’s so­cial­ist gov­ern­ment faces a ma­jor chal­lenge from the far-right in elec­tions next year.

Trump has ap­plauded the Bri­tish de­ci­sion to exit the EU, or “Brexit,” and has had meet­ings with Nigel Farage, leader of the UK In­de­pen­dence Party and a key player in the Bri­tish de­ci­sion to leave. For his part, Obama said Thurs­day his hope was that the Brexit ne­go­ti­a­tions be “con­ducted in a smooth and or­derly and trans­par­ent fash­ion and pre­serve as closely as pos­si­ble the eco­nomic and po­lit­i­cal and se­cu­rity re­la­tion­ships be­tween the UK and EU.”

Still, Obama noted that he con­sid­ered the EU “one of the world’s great po­lit­i­cal and eco­nomic achieve­ments.”— AP

BER­LIN: Ger­man chan­cel­lor An­gela Merkel, third left, at­tends a meet­ing with US pres­i­dent Barack Obama, left, French pres­i­dent, Fran­cois Hol­lande, third right, Spain’s Prime Min­is­ter, Mar­i­ano Ra­joy, right, Bri­tain’s Prime Min­is­ter Theresa May, sec­ond right, and Ital­ian Prime Min­is­ter Mat­teo Renzi, sec­ond left, at the chan­cellery yes­ter­day. — AP

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