BERLIN (AP) – Austria’s chancellor has described parts of U.S. President Donald Trump’s foreign policy as “very successful” as he prepares to visit Washington this week.
Chancellor Sebastian Kurz told Sunday’s edition of Austrian newspaper Die Presse that one of the main aims of his visit is to help avert a trade war, which he said “would endanger thousands of jobs in Austria.”
On Saturday, German Chancellor Angela Merkel said U.S. authorities appear to have concluded that European cars were a national security threat, suggesting that trade tensions might spike anew.
Kurz is expected at the White House on Wednesday. He pointed to differences with Trump on trade and the Iran nuclear deal, but praised the president’s support for Israel and efforts to secure peace on the Korean Peninsula.
The Austrian leader was quoted as saying that “Trump is running, in part, a very active and also very successful foreign policy.”
He cited as an example long-running U.S. efforts to get its NATO partners to increase defence spending, arguing that only Trump’s threats had an effect.
“We see that rather critically as a neutral country that supports disarmament, but it corresponds to the aims NATO has set itself,” Kurz said. Austria is not part of NATO but is a member of the European Union.
Asked whether he thinks Trump wants to weaken the EU, Kurz replied: “I don’t think it can be in America’s interest to have a weak EU.”
Kurz, a 32-year-old conservative, took office in December 2017 in a coalition with Austria’s nationalist, anti-migration Freedom Party. He has made curbing unregulated migration a priority.