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Trump calls NATO obsolete and dismisses EU in German interview

By RAINER BUERGIN | Bloomberg News (Tribune News Service) | Published: January 15, 2017

BERLIN — U.S. President-elect Donald Trump called NATO obsolete, predicted that other countries would follow Britain in leaving the European Union in an interview with Germany’s Bild newspaper.

Quoted in German from a conversation held in English, Trump predicted that Britain’s exit from the EU will be a success and portrayed the EU as an instrument of German domination with the purpose of beating the U.S. in international trade. For that reason, Trump said, he’s fairly indifferent whether the EU breaks up or stays together.

Trump’s comments leave little doubt that he will stick to campaign positions and may in some cases upend decades of U.S. foreign policy, putting him fundamentally at odds with German Chancellor Angela Merkel on such issues as free trade, refugees, security and the EU’s role in the world. On Russia, he suggested he might use economic sanctions imposed for Vladimir Putin’s encroachment on Ukraine as leverage in nuclear-arms reduction talks, while NATO, he said, “has problems.”

“It’s obsolete, first because it was designed many, many years ago,” Trump was quoted as saying about the trans-Atlantic military alliance. “Secondly, countries aren’t paying what they should” and NATO “didn’t deal with terrorism.”

While those comments expanded on doubts Trump raised about the NATO during his campaign, he reserved some of his most dismissive remarks for the EU and Merkel, whose open-border refugee policy he called a “catastrophic mistake.”

In contrast, Trump praised Britons for voting last year to leave the EU. People and countries want their own identity and don’t want outsiders to come in and “destroy it.” Britain is smart to leave the bloc because the EU “is basically a means to an end for Germany,” Bild quoted Trump as saying.

“If you ask me, more countries will leave,” he said.

With Merkel facing a challenge from the anti-immigration Alternative for Germany as she seeks a fourth term this fall, Trump was asked whether he’d like to see her re-elected. He said he couldn’t say, adding that while he respects Merkel, who’s been in office for 11 years, he doesn’t know her and she has hurt Germany by letting “all these illegals” into the country.

In line with his threats against other automakers, Trump said BMW would face a 35 percent import duty for foreign-built cars sold in the U.S. BMW should scrap plans to open a new plant in Mexico and build the factory in the U.S. instead, he said.. BMW plans to start building cars at San Luis Potosi in 2019.

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©2017 Bloomberg News

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