British and French foreign ministers are to miss special talks with their EU counterparts on Sunday to discuss Donald Trump’s US election win in a sign of divisions over how to deal with the new president.
European Union foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini had summoned the ministers for dinner in Brussels after Republican Trump stormed to victory over Democrat Hillary Clinton on a platform which questioned America’s commitment to Europe.
British Foreign Minister Boris Johnson will not attend the meeting which is seen in some quarters as unnecessarily casting doubt on the result of an election in the country that has been closely allied to Europe for decades.
“We do not see the need for an additional meeting on Sunday because the US election timetable is long established,” a British Foreign Office spokesman said, adding that Johnson would attend a scheduled full meeting of ministers tomorrow.
“An act of democracy has taken place, there is a transition period and we will work with the current and future administrations to ensure the best outcomes for Britain.”
Britain will be seeking the incoming Trump administration’s backing as it negotiates its exit from the EU following June’s Brexit referendum vote.
French Foreign Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault will meanwhile be “absent for agenda reasons”, a French source told AFP, although his absence from a crucial meeting called by the EU’s own foreign policy chief will also raise questions.
Britain and France will instead be represented by their ambassadors to the EU.
Trump’s victory has already been greeted coolly by a bloc shaken by Brexit and other crises, with European Commission chief Jean-Claude Juncker warning the billionaire president-elect to get up to speed quickly on transatlantic ties.