US President Donald Trump. Photo: Reuters/Denis Balibouse

Shortly before heading to Finland for a summit with Russian leader Vladimir Putin, Donald Trump called the European Union one of America’s greatest “foes.”

Asked in a TV interview to name his “biggest foe globally right now,” the US president started by naming the European Union, describing the bloc as “very difficult.”

Trump told CBS News at his Turnberry golf resort in Scotland, “Well, I think we have a lot of foes. I think the European Union is a foe, what they do to us in trade. Now, you wouldn’t think of the European Union but they’re a foe. Russia is a foe in certain respects. China is a foe economically, certainly they are a foe. But that doesn’t mean they are bad. It doesn’t mean anything. It means that they are competitive.”

Donald Tusk, president of the European Council, appeared to be taken aback by Trump’s candid remarks, tweeting: “America and the EU are best friends. Whoever says we are foes is spreading fake news.”

Trump said he had “low expectations” for his meeting with Putin in Finland on Monday. “I’m not going with high expectations,” he told CBS at the end of his controversial UK visit, which sparked mass protests, adding that he expected talks with Putin to produce “nothing bad” and “maybe some good.”

Trump has been urged to talk to the Russian leader about the death of a woman who was exposed to novichok in the UK and criminal charges filed against a dozen Russians accused of hacking Democratic Party emails during the 2016 US presidential election.

Trump said on Twitter as he left for Helsinki on Sunday that he was “looking forward to meeting with President Putin.” However, he added, “Unfortunately, no matter how well I do at the Summit, if I was given the great city of Moscow as retribution for all of the sins and evils committed by Russia…over the years, I would return to criticism that it wasn’t good enough – that I should have gotten Saint Petersburg in addition!”

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