European diplomats drew a line in the sand last month, telling American officials their bullying tactics would not help marshal support for US President Donald Trump’s Iran policy.

The firm response came in a conference call in early January when a senior US State Department official threatened European carmakers would be hit with tariffs unless the European Union backed Trump’s hard line.

Diplomats from Germany, France and the UK said such tactics were completely unacceptable and would not help the president achieve his goals, according to US and European officials familiar with the exchange cited by Bloomberg.

The US State Department team was struck by the firmness of the European line and passed their message on to the White House and officials from both sides noted the US administration dialed back the pressure on its European allies in the days that followed.

The episode suggests a growing resolve among European officials to stand their ground, as Trump looks to use trade policy to advance a widening range of US geopolitical goals, and it also shows that their ability to pull together may survive the UK exit from the EU.

Trump has been turning up the heat on Europe over a range of issues that also include relations with China and Russia. The president returned to the offensive later in the month when he targeted the EU for some of his harshest criticism at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland.

Source » financialtribune