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EU will act against US tariffs on steel, aluminium: Merkel

Turning to Russia, Merkel said she could imagine Moscow re-joining the G7 format at some point, but there first had to be progress in the implementation of the peace plan for Ukraine.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel. Picture: United Nations (UN).

BERLIN – Europe will implement counter-measures against US tariffs on steel and aluminium just like Canada, German Chancellor Angela Merkel said on Sunday, voicing regret about President Donald Trump’s abrupt decision to withdraw support for a G7 communique.

The centre-right leader said a tariff-free area among G7 allies would be an ideal outcome, but she made clear that any talks about such a trade bloc would have to include non-tariff barriers to trade as well as free access to public tenders.

Turning to Russia, Merkel said she could imagine Moscow re-joining the G7 format at some point, but there first had to be progress in the implementation of the peace plan for Ukraine.

Russia was pushed out of what was then the G8 after it annexed Crimea from Ukraine in 2014.

Merkel said she expected Italy’s new coalition government to vote for the extension of European sanctions against Russia.

Touching the thorny issue of Germany’s relatively low defense spending, Merkel acknowledged that Trump’s criticism was partly correct and that Berlin had to do more to reach Nato’s goal of spending to 2% of economic output on defense.

“Trump is in a way right. And that’s why we need to increase our defense spending,” Merkel said.

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