U.S. lawmakers say Trump-era transatlantic rift mere family ‘squabbles’

February 19, 2019

BRUSSELS (Reuters) – A delegation of U.S. lawmakers sought to reassure European allies in Brussels on Tuesday that differences over President Donald Trump’s policies were mere “family squabbles” and transatlantic ties remain strong.

U.S. Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi cast the visit by a 50-strong delegation to Europe as proof of enduring bonds despite anger in European capitals over what is seen as Trump’s disregard for their interests.

“It is about one word: it is about respect,” Pelosi told reporters, stressing that the delegation was the largest yet to attend the Munich Security conference over the weekend.

Misgivings over Washington’s leadership on foreign policy issues was on full display at the conference of world leaders, with anxiety mounting over division in the West on how to deal with threats ranging from nuclear arms to climate change.

“Like in a family, there are ups and downs,” congressman Eliot Engel, chairman of the foreign affairs committee said. “Things sometimes are bumpy, but they straighten out.”

Referring to unease in transatlantic ties, congressman Gregory Meeks remarked: “We may have a squabble but those squabbles will dissolve.”

The European Union and the United States have traditionally been the closest of allies, working together also via NATO.

Trump, however, has lambasted his European peers for not spending enough on defense, raising doubts among many in Europe about his commitment to the Western military alliance and Europe’s broader security.

Speaking in Brussels, Pelosi pointed to bipartisan support for NATO after the U.S. House of Representatives last month approved legislation aimed at stopping Trump from withdrawing the United States from military alliance.

“I don’t think there is any difference between democrats and republicans on our relationship with NATO,” she said.

(Reporting by Clare Roth and Alissa de Carbonnel, Editing by William Maclean)

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