Europe 'astonished' after Donald Trump labels Nato 'obsolete'

'I think we Europeans have our fate in our own hands,' says Angela Merkel 

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The Independent Online

European nations have said they are “astonished” by President-elect Donald Trump’s claim Nato was “obsolete”. 

They also reacted with surprise and defiance at his suggestion more member states would join Britain in leaving the 28-nation EU.

During an interview with The Times, Mr Trump said Britain’s decision to leave the EU would “end up being a great thing” and reiterated his claim that Nato is “obsolete because it wasn't taking care of terror”.

Dress rehearsal takes place ahead of Donald Trump's inauguration

German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier, speaking ahead of an EU foreign ministers’ meeting, said Mr Trump’s view on Nato and criticism that allied members weren’t paying their fair share has “caused astonishment”. 

His French counterpart Jean-Marc Ayrault added that the best response to such an interview was simple – Europeans uniting.

In Berlin, Chancellor Angela Merkel said she was pressing the President-elect for a meeting in the spring.

Merkel had offered to meet Trump in the United States in her capacity as chairman of the Group of 20 leading economies, the sources said.

The chancellor has spoken with Trump only once, shortly after his election to succeed U.S. President Barack Obama

Mr Trump’s positions have been “long known” but added: “I think we Europeans have our fate in our own hands.” 

“I’m personally going to wait until the American president takes office, and then we will naturally work with him on all levels,” she told reporters. 

In the interview, Mr Trump avoided saying who he trusted more, Ms Merkel, a longtime US-ally, or Russian President Vladimir Putin.

“Well, I start off trusting both – but let’s see how long that lasts,” he said. “It may not last long at all.”

Despite saying he had “great respect” for the German leader, Mr Trump said she had made a “catastrophic mistake” by welcoming an unlimited number of refugees to her country.

He also suggested the December Christmas market attack by a Tunisian man was one effect of Ms Merkel’s policies.

Ms Merkel is working to set a date for a meeting with Mr Trump in spring, Reuters reports. 

She has reportedly offered to meet Mr Trump in the United States in her capacity as chairman of the Group of 20 leading economies.

The chancellor has spoken with Mr Trump only once, shortly after his election to succeed US President Barack Obama.

Additional reporting by agencies

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