by Staff Writers
Paris (AFP) Jan 28, 2017
French President Francois Hollande on Saturday warned his new US counterpart Donald Trump against adopting a protectionist stance and called on him to respect the principle of accepting refugees.
During a telephone conversation between the two leaders Hollande stressed the "economic and political consequences of a protectionist approach", the Elysee Palace said in a statement.
Trump on Friday signed an executive order suspending the US refugee resettlement programme for 120 days.
"Faced with an unstable and uncertain world, withdrawal into oneself is a dead-end response," Hollande was quoted as saying.
He added that defending democratic principles required compliance with "the principles on which it is founded, in particular the acceptance of refugees".
In addition to his freeze on refugee settlement Trump has also announced that visa applications from seven Muslim countries -- Iraq, Syria, Iran, Sudan, Libya, Somalia and Yemen - are on hold for at least 90 days.
Hollande also insisted on "the importance for the planet of the implementation of the Paris convention on global warming".
Trump has announced plans to undo climate policies and promote domestic energy development as part of his "America First" agenda.
The two leaders also discussed relations with Russia, with Hollande stressing "his wish to pursue and intensify dialogue on all subjects," while adding that the Western sanctions in place against Moscow over the situation in Ukraine should not be lifted.
Hollande and Trump "agreed to continue with their discussions on essential issues," according to the Elysee.
At a gathering of southern European Union leaders in Lisbon Saturday Hollande urged Europe to form a united front and provide a "firm" response to Trump.
Iraqi family barred from flying to US from Cairo
Egyptian officials said the family had visas and were in transit when they were prevented from boarding the EgyptAir plane to New York's JFK airport.
Fuad Sharef, 51, and his wife and three children were instead forced to board a flight back to Arbil in Iraq's autonomous region of Kurdistan, he told AFP.
Trump had on Friday signed a sweeping executive order to suspend refugee arrivals and impose tough controls on travellers from Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen.
"I had sold my house, my car, my furniture. I resigned from work and so did my wife. I took my children out of school," said Sharef of the family's preparations to resettle in Nashville, Tennessee under a special immigrant visa.
Back in Arbil, the pharmaceutical industry manager, who had previously worked for an NGO subcontracted by the US aid agency, said he was devastated.
"Donald Trump destroyed my life. My family's life. I used to think America was a state of institutions but it's as though it's a dictatorship," he said.
"For a decision like this to come out and be implemented immediately, and against whom? Against a valid visa holder."
"I put my life at risk, working with the Americans at a time that it could have gotten you killed," he added.
The family had been barred at Cairo after a flight manifest was sent to JFK airport, which responded with instructions that they were not to board, according to airport officials.
EgyptAir's website has not provided updated travel advice for the United States.
Qatar Airways, one of the largest Middle East airlines, said on its website that citizens of those seven countries could still travel to the United States if they had a permanent residence permit.
The Qatari travel alert said government officials and their immediate family members, as well as representatives of international organisations were exempt from the restrictions.
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