U.K., French foreign ministers snub emergency EU meeting about President-elect Donald Trump

By Yvette C. Hammett   |   Nov. 13, 2016 at 11:42 AM
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BRUSSELS, Nov. 13 (UPI) -- French and United Kingdom foreign ministers opted out of a European Union emergency meeting being held in response to the election of Donald Trump as U.S. president.

U.K. Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson and French Foreign Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault do not plan to attend but instead will send representatives to Brussels for the meeting called by EU Council President Donald Tusk, at the suggestion of Germany.

EU members plan to discuss how far they believe Trump will go to live up to his pledges to turn U.S. foreign policy upside down on issues including Syria, Iran, Russia and NATO, The Guardian reported.

"We do not see the need for an additional meeting on Sunday because the U.S. election timetable is long established," a spokesman for Johnson said. "An act of democracy has taken place, there is a transition and we will work with the current and future administrations to ensure the best outcomes for Britain."

Ayrault's office said he would be "absent for agenda reasons."

EU Executive Director Jean-Claude Juncker said Trump poses risks for the relationship between the U.S. and the EU.

"Mr Trump, during his campaign, said that Belgium was a village somewhere in Europe," Juncker said. "I believe we'll have two years of wasted time while Mr. Trump tours a world he doesn't know," he said, referring to Trump's lack of foreign policy experience.

Following Trump's unexpected victory last Tuesday, the U.S. president-elect spoke with British Prime Minister Theresa May. A spokesman for May said they agreed the relationship between London and Washington is "very important and very special and that building on this would be a priority for them both," Voice of America reported.

Trump, as he campaigned, praised Russian President Vladimir Putin, questioned the principle of NATO, and criticized the policy in some EU nations for open border migration.

The same group of EU leaders, including Johnson and Ayrault, will meet again on Monday to discuss plans to boost defense cooperation, something Britain has long opposed.

Britain hopes to get the backing of Trump administration as it negotiates its exit from the EU following June's Brexit referendum vote.

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