- The Washington Times - Tuesday, March 27, 2018

President Trump spoke Tuesday with leaders of Germany and France to reaffirm the West’s strong response to Russia’s nerve agent assassination attempt in the U.K.

In separate calls with German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Emmanuel Macron, Mr. Trump discussed working together to confront Russia and a range of other issues.

The Trump administration expelled 60 Russian intelligence officers Monday and closed Russia’s consulate in Seattle, joining European allies in punishing Moscow for the March 4 poisoning of a former Russian double agent in Salisbury, England.

In the call with Ms. Merkel, “both leaders praised the joint announcements from North Atlantic Treaty Organization Allies, European Union member states, and other partners to expel undeclared Russian intelligence officers in solidarity with the United Kingdom and in response to Russia’s reckless use of chemical weapons,” according to the White House.

Mr. Macron expressed support for Mr. Trump’s expulsion of Russian spies, according to the White House.

The assassination attempt has brought relations between the West and Moscow to one of its lowest points since Russia’s annexation of Crimea in 2014.

Mr. Trump also discussed with both leaders efforts they could take together to counter China’s unfair trade practices. The president last week announced tariffs on high-tech imports from China and other get-tough measures that spurred new trade talks.

On another front, Mr. Trump and Mr. Macron discussed the ongoing conflict in Syria.

“President Trump stressed the need to intensify cooperation with Turkey with respect to shared strategic challenges in Syria,” the White House said.

Turkey is pursuing a campaign to push Kurdish fighters out of Syrian towns. Turkey considers the Kurds terrorists, but they have been key allies in the U.S.-led effort against the Islamic State. 

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