March 23, 2018 / 8:43 AM / 10 months ago

UPDATE 1-France, Germany and Britain praise Trump rethink on Europe tariffs

(Updates with other countries welcoming U.S. move)

* U.S. change of heart welcomed by France, Germany, UK

* EU leaders awaiting details, EU Commissioner cites “progress”

* China urges Washington to “pull back from brink” (combines reactions)

PARIS, March 23 (Reuters) - Germany, France and Britain said on Friday they were happy that U.S. President Donald Trump had changed his mind about slapping higher tariffs on European steel.

EU leaders meeting in Brussels were awaiting details of a move that could avert a trade war between the European Union and the United States.

Washington said on Thursday tariffs would be suspended for the EU, the United States’ biggest trading partner, and for Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, Mexico and South Korea. The tariffs are suspended until May 1 as discussions continue.

“Europe had clearly stated its intention to riposte and enter a trade war...It’s a good thing that President Trump changed his mind on the tariff increases,” French government spokesman Benjamin Griveaux said.

German Economy Minister Peter Altmaier told Deutschlandfunk radio: “I am very pleased that we have avoided a situation for the German steel and aluminium industry and its workers that could have led to great uncertainty.”

“We don’t want further unilateral measures; rather we want sensible agreements,” he added. “Our goal is that at the end of these talks, the international trade architecture must be more stable - there must be more cooperation, not less.”

British Prime Minister Theresa, in Brussels, also hailed the U.S. move.

European Commissioner Pierre Moscovici, a Frenchman, hailed the move too, saying: “This is progress...let’s keep talking.”

Reporting by Brian Love and Mathieu Rosemain in Paris, Paul Carrel and Georg Merziger in Berlin and Jan Strupczewski in Brussels Editing by David Goodman

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