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On eve of Putin summit, Trump calls EU a 'foe'.

Summary: On the eve of his meeting with Russia's Vladimir Putin, U.S. President Donald Trump rattled allies once more by labeling the European Union a "foe" with regard to trade.

ABOARD AIR FORCE ONE: On the eve of his meeting with Russia's Vladimir Putin, U.S. President Donald Trump rattled allies once more by labeling the European Union a "foe" with regard to trade. In a presummit interview with CBS News' "Face the Nation" program aired Sunday, Trump lumped in the EU with China and Russia as U.S. economic adversaries. "I think the European Union is a foe, what they do to us in trade," he said.

Donald Tusk, president of the European Council, replied on Twitter using one of Trump's favorite stock phrases. "America and the EU are best friends," Tusk wrote.

"Whoever says we are foes is spreading fake news."

Trump and Putin are set to meet Monday in Helsinki for their first stand-alone meeting since Trump took office in January 2017.

Trump departed for Helsinki Sunday evening after spending the day playing golf at his private club in Scotland.

Trump and his aides worked through the weekend to soften expectations for tangible results from the meeting. "I go in with low expectations," Trump told CBS in the same interview. "I'm not going with high expectations."Trump's national security adviser John Bolton said in an interview with ABC's "This Week" that the United States would not be looking for "deliverables" and that the meeting would be "unstructured," beginning with a one-on-one session between the two leaders.

"It isn't a summit," U.S. Ambassador to Russia Jon Huntsman told NBC's "Meet the Press."

"It's a meeting. ... This is an attempt to see if we can defuse and take some of the drama, and quite frankly some of the danger, out of the relationship right now."

The meeting comes just days after 12 Russian intelligence officers were charged by a U.S. federal grand jury for hacking the Democrats ahead of the 2016 election.

A raucous House investigative hearing held Thursday highlighted bitter, partisan divisions within the U.S. Congress over a probe of Russian election meddling that has clouded Trump's presidency.

The Helsinki summit, which comes at one of the most crucial junctures for the West since the 1991 fall of the Soviet Union, has alarmed some NATO allies who fear Putin might seek a grand deal that undermines the U.S.-led trans-Atlantic alliance.

During last week's NATO summit in Brussels, Trump repeatedly criticized members for failing to spend more on defense and openly questioned the alliance's purpose. Trump has said he wants to raise nuclear arms control, Ukraine and Syria with Putin, who has served as Russia's pre-eminent leader since Boris Yeltsin resigned on the last day of 1999.

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Publication:The Daily Star (Beirut, Lebanon)
Geographic Code:4EXRU
Date:Jul 16, 2018
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