European Union hoping for clarity from United States trade talks in Brussels

"It is certainly not the right way to include Europe. because we are friends, we are allies, we work together, we can not possibly be a threat to national security in the US US so we are counting on being excluded", the Swede added.

Brussels is also looking at "safeguard" measures to protect its industry - restricting the bloc's imports of steel and aluminium to stop foreign supplies flooding the European market, which is allowed under World Trade Organisation rules.

European industry associations called on Malmstrom to respond if the EU was subjected to the tariffs, saying they would hit the steel and aluminum sectors hard.

Top EU trade officials will hold crunch talks with their US counterparts in Brussels today hoping to get "clarity" on US President Donald Trump's controversial new steel and aluminium tariffs.

Brazil, which after Canada is the biggest steel supplier to the USA market, said it wants to join the exemption list, and Argentina made a similar case.

Along with a huge range of steel products, the EU's hit list of flagship American products lined up for counter measures includes peanut butter, bourbon whiskey and denim jeans.

"There are different rumours about 'that could be excluded and that could be excluded, ' and it is not crystal clear what came from the president yesterday", Ms. Malmström said at the Brussels Forum Thursday.

Brussels has prepared a list of United States products to hit with countermeasures if its exports are affected by the tariffs, but says it hopes to join Canada and Mexico in being exempted.

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"Dialogue is always the prime option of the European Union", Malmstroem said, adding that Brussels was "counting on being excluded" from the new duties.

Malmstrom said she still believed a solution could be found but added she was prepared to take action at the World Trade Organisation if the USA extended the tariffs to European Union producers.

"We are friends. We are allies".

"We have been very clear that (the USA decision) is not in compliance with the WTO", she said.

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin earlier said he expects countries in addition to Mexico and Canada to be exempted in the next couple of weeks.

While carrying a message to Washington to push forward a diplomatic breakthrough over North Korea, South Korea's national security office chief, Chung Eui-yong, requested US officials to support Seoul's request for a waiver, a presidential spokesperson said.

The EU exported about 5.5 million tons of steel to the US past year. Japan's steel industry body also expressed concern.

"The loss of exports to the US, combined with an expected massive import surge in the European Union, could cost tens of thousands of jobs in the European Union steel industry and related sectors", said Axel Eggert, head of steel association.

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