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US restores mission status of ‘valuable partner’ EU

U.S. Secretary of State Michael R. Pompeo, U.S. Ambassador to the Belgium Ronald Gidwitz and U.S. Ambassador to the European Union Gordon Sondland listen on as President Donald J. Trump addresses Tri- Mission Brussels during a meet-and-greet in Brussels, Belgium on July 11, 2018. (U.S. State Department)

This article was originally published by Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty and is reprinted with permission.

The United States says it has restored the European Union’s mission in Washington to its former status, calling the bloc one of “its most valuable partners.”

The U.S. State Department late last year lowered the EU mission’s diplomatic status from member state to international organization — a move seen as a further blow to transatlantic ties.

“The Department of State will again recognize the European Union’s representation in Washington as equivalent to that of a bilateral mission in the Diplomatic Corps Order of Precedence,” Gordon Sondland, the U.S. ambassador to the EU, said in a statement.

“The European Union is a uniquely important organization, and one of America’s most valuable partners in ensuring global security and prosperity,” Sondland said.

“Europe’s security and success are inextricably linked to that of the United States, and this level of engagement and cooperation should be recognized appropriately in all settings.”

Under U.S. President Donald Trump, Europe’s once solid ties with the Washington have deteriorated. Washington last year put tariffs on steel and aluminium from the EU and other partners.

The EU in January confirmed it was holding talks with U.S. officials about the mission’s status after German international broadcaster Deutsche Welle (DW) reported the downgrade.

DW said it only came to light when the EU ambassador in Washington did not receive an invitation to the funeral of former U.S. President George H.W. Bush in December.