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A 'terrible' phone call

A terrible phone call

If there was one Head of State from the EU the unpredictable Donald Trump could get along with, it was Emanuelle Macron of France. But a call about trade and migration between the two Presidents soured last week after Macron candidly criticised Trump's policies. "Just bad. It was terrible," revealed a source. "Macron thought he would be able to speak his mind, based on the relationship. But Trump can't handle being criticised like that."

A short White House readout of the call with Macron said the conversation was focused on trade and immigration. "Both leaders discussed the migration problem in Libya and timelines to solve it. Trump underscored the need to rebalance trade with Europe," the readout states.

Trump held a similar call with British Prime Minister Theresa May. It is not her style to be combative but one source said May was expected to be direct in her criticisms and that Trump could expect a tough conversation. According to a Downing Street spokesperson, the two discussed the Trump administration's tariffs on American allies, including Mexico, Canada and the European Union as well as other matters. "The Prime Minister raised the US decision to apply tariffs to EU steel and aluminum imports, which she said was unjustified and deeply disappointing," the statement said. In a readout of the call, the White House said Trump "further underscored the need to rebalance trade with Europe." The call with Macron came the same day the United States announced a unilateral decision to slap steel and aluminum tariffs on American allies, including Mexico, Canada, and the European Union. In a statement issued by the Elysee Palace ahead of the call, Macron said he that "regrets the US decision to confirm tariffs in steel and aluminum."

"This decision is not only illegal, it is a mistake on many points. It is a mistake because it responds to a worldwide imbalance that exists in the worst ways through fragmentations and economic nationalism," the statement continued with Macron adding that "if these kinds of things impacted our relations, it would have been the case since day one because he has decided to leave the Paris (climate) agreement."

"I prefer to say things directly and I will tell him my convictions that he knows already," he said in the statement. The latest strained call is particularly notable because Macron is arguably the European leader to whom Trump is closest. Interestingly, in an interview last January, Macron said he had a "very direct relationship" with his US counterpart. "I'm always extremely direct and frank. He is. Sometimes I manage to convince him and sometimes I fail". Time-tested alliances being rubbed the wrong way does not augur well.

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