Navarro clashes with State Department over UAE airline deal

Published May 23, 2018, 12:34 AM

by Roel Tibay

By the Associated Press

After striking a delicate deal with the United Arab Emirates on rules for airline competition, the Trump administration went to war with itself about what the agreement actually said.

FILE - In this March 31, 2017 file photo, National Trade Council adviser Peter Navarro appears before President Donald Trump arrives to sign executive orders regarding trade in the Oval Office at the White House in Washington. After striking a delicate deal with the United Arab Emirates on rules for airline competition, the Trump administration went to war with itself about what the agreement actually said. White House trade adviser Peter Navarro repeatedly contradicted the State Department’s carefully crafted script. Behind the scenes, a dizzying scene of one-upmanship, word games and subtle subterfuge played out, magnified by lobbyists seeking to exploit divisions within the Trump administration. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik/ MANILA BULLETIN)
FILE – In this March 31, 2017 file photo, National Trade Council adviser Peter Navarro appears before President Donald Trump arrives to sign executive orders regarding trade in the Oval Office at the White House in Washington. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik/ MANILA BULLETIN)

President Donald Trump’s trade adviser Peter Navarro repeatedly contradicted the State Department’s carefully crafted script. He insisted the deal includes a “freeze” on so-called Fifth Freedom flights by the Emirati airlines that are loathed by U.S. carriers like Delta Air Lines.

The State Department insists there’s no freeze. So the wonky aviation pact erupted into a bitter, lobbyist-fueled international incident. The Emiratis complained to the administration.

The drama has played out as Navarro seeks to assert authority from his perch at Trump’s new White House trade and manufacturing office. It comes amid parallel tensions over Navarro’s role in China trade negotiations.

 
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