US President Donald Trump holds a joint press conference with Italian Prime Minister Paolo Gentiloni at the White House in Washington, DC, April 20, 2017. (AFP photo)
US President Donald Trump says a strong Europe is “very, very important” to the United States, despite his previous support for Britain’s exit from the European Union.
Trump made the comments on Thursday during a press conference with Italian Prime Minister Paolo Gentiloni.
Trump’s meeting with Gentiloni included economic and trade discussions, as well as security issues. The meeting comes a month before Trump is scheduled to travel to Italy for the first Group of 7 summit of his presidency.
“A strong Europe is very, very important to me as president of the United States and is also, in my opinion, in my very strong opinion, important for the United States,” Trump said.
“We want to see it, we will help it be strong and it’s very much to everybody’s advantage,” he added.
The still-new president expressed his desire for a strong Europe despite previously supporting Britain’s decision to leave the EU and said he predicted other EU countries to do the same.
In January, Trump described the UK’s referendum in June to withdraw from the EU as a “great thing,” arguing that the bloc is heavily influenced by Germany.
EU leaders have been rattled by Trump’s comments on Europe, which they say is aimed at destroying the integrity of the bloc by advocating other nations to follow Brexit.
In late January, French President Francois urged European leaders to form a united front against Trump’s stance and remarks.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel and her pro-European allies have also called for a united Europe. “If we act together in Europe, we can do it much better than if we do things on our own in a world that isn’t sleeping,” she said.
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