Austrian chancellor Sebastian Kurz described his meeting with United States president Donald Trump Wednesday as “very disputatious” in an interview with ORF’s Armin Wolf.
Kurz flew to Washington D.C. earlier this week in order to meet with Trump, becoming the first Austrian chancellor in 13 years to receive an invitation to the White House, at a time when the US and EU are at odds over trade and military spending.
Prior to their meeting, Trump told the assembled press the US has a “tremendous relationship, long term, with Austria,” adding, “We’re going to be discussing numerous things — immigration — today. But we’re also discussing trade. We have a very big trade presence and a very good relationship on trade. We do a lot of business with each other.”
Kurz added that he hoped to discuss trade and economic growth, “our bilateral relations, but also the relations between the European Union and the United States of America.”
And it was over trade that the two leaders clashed, according to the chancellor. Trump warned Wednesday that though “we’re trying to make a deal,” with reference to ongoing trade negotiations between the US and the EU, but that he would impose auto tariffs should those talks fail.
Kurz opposed those tariffs and spoke out against American protectionism as well as any unilateral measures that would threaten the export-orientated Austrian economy and lead to higher unemployment in the US and EU.
Kurz and Trump also disagreed over Nord Stream 2, a proposed gas pipeline project from Russia to the EU, which the US opposes. Kurz told Wolf that taking into account Austria’s energy requirements, for so long as its gas is affordable, he considers Russia a partner.
American officials aligned with Trump have previously spoken in praise of Kurz, with his ambassador to Germany, Richard Grenell, calling the Austrian chancellor a “rock star.” But People’s Party parliamentarian Martin Engelberg, who was in Washington with Kurz, described the bilateral meeting as “tough.”
Nonetheless, an invitation has been extended to Trump to visit Austria.
Here are some reactions from Twitter:
Richard Grenell called him a “rock star.” Steve Bannon says he is a “rising star” of the sovereignty movement. Why Trump lavished so much attention on Austria’s boy wonder chancellor. https://t.co/FMdBaXOlBw
— Mark Landler (@MarkLandler) February 21, 2019
The White House's account of what happened during Trump's meeting with Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz is drastically different and more rosy than Kurz's. https://t.co/XDSJwtenLv
— Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) February 21, 2019
'We're trying to make a deal, they're very tough to make a deal with," President Trump said today, sitting alongside Austria's Chancellor Sebastian Kurz, who was in Washington for bilateral meetings with the Trump administration. "If we don't make a deal, we'll do the tariffs."
— Vivian Salama (@vmsalama) February 20, 2019
"You are a young guy," Pres Trump says of Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz, at 32, the youngest world leader. Kurz told @POTUS that Austria is looking for improved trade and economic growth in its dealings with the US. pic.twitter.com/A5YtYrKjv1
— Mark Knoller (@markknoller) February 20, 2019
some ten years ago I studied together with Sebastian Kurz and did a roadtrip to the US including a visit to the Trump tower for funsies. If someone had told me that this would happen I… well, I don't know. In any case, I wouldn't have believed it https://t.co/HLavikq4Lk
— Ralph Janik (@RalphJanik) February 21, 2019