January 28, 2017 / 8:47 PM / 3 years ago

France's Hollande warns Trump against protectionism

U.S. President Donald Trump in the Oval Office at the White House in Washington, U.S. January 28, 2017. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst

PARIS (Reuters) - French President Francois Hollande on Saturday warned U.S. President Donald Trump against taking a protectionist approach, which he said would have economic and political consequences.

“In an unstable and uncertain world, turning inward would be a dead-end,” Hollande told Trump in their first official telephone conversation, according to a statement from the president’s office.

The French president told Trump, who has expressed skepticism about international organizations, that France was committed to the United Nations, that the NATO military alliance was indispensable and the European Union should be reinforced.

Hollande, now just four months before the end of his term, said sanctions against Russia should be lifted only when the situation in eastern Ukraine was resolved.

Trump said on Friday he was only in the early stages of considering whether to lift U.S. sanctions on Russia, but insisted he wanted to follow through on his campaign pledge to pursue better relations with Russia.

The president also told Trump democracies could be defended only if founding democratic principles were respected, including welcoming refugees.

Earlier on Saturday, France and Germany voiced disquiet over Trump’s decision to limit immigration and refugees from some Muslim countries.

Hollande also told southern European leaders meeting in Lisbon the new U.S. government was encouraging “populism and even extremism” and that Europe should stick together.

Reporting by Michel Rose; editing by Ralph Boulton

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