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Trump predicts "no trade war" over new tariffs during meeting with Netanyahu

Trump on trade, Israel embassy
Trump on trade, Israel embassy 09:30

President Trump said amid growing criticism of his new tariffs on steel and aluminum imports, there would be "no trade war" on the horizon. Republican lawmakers were swift in denouncing the president's plan, arguing it could have negative impacts on the U.S. economy and cause prices to skyrocket. Mr. Trump later argued that "trade wars are good" and that "if you don't have steel, you don't have a country."

He appeared to change his tune on Monday. "I don't think you're going to have a trade war," the president told reporters during an Oval Office meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Monday. But Mr. Trump added, "We are not backing down on the tariffs."

He said the U.S. had been "ripped off by virtually every country in the world" when it comes to trade, arguing that trade barriers in Europe, China and Russia were "far worse than any tariff."

Meanwhile, Mr. Trump also told reporters that he may visit Jerusalem as work begins on the new U.S. embassy in Jerusalem slated to open in May. Mr. Trump told Netanyahu that a proposed $1 billion price tag for the embassy was no good and instead would get it done for about $250,000. "Is that good?" he inquired of Netanyahu as the two laughed.

"We're looking at coming," he said. "If I can, I will. Again, Israel is very special to me, special people and I very proud of that decision." 

Mr. Trump said his decision on designating Jerusalem as the capital of Israel was "very much appreciated" by the region. "Many presidents were discussing whether or not to make that decision, and they promised it in their campaigns but they never were able to do what they should have done so I was able to do it," he said. 

Netanyahu hailed the procomation as "historic" saying it would be "remembered by our people through the ages." He added, "Others talked about it, you did it, so I want to thank you on behalf of people of Israel."

The two leaders said they would be discussing trade deals, military and countering terrorism in addition to ongoing efforts to broker a peace deal in the Middle East. Mr. Trump called such peace talks "the hardest deal."

"Look, what better if we could make peace between the Palestinians and Israelis and I can tell you we are working very hard," the president said.

He stated that Palestinians want to come back to the negotiating table. "If they don't, you don't have peace," Mr. Trump said.

CBS News' Emily Tillett contributed to this report. 

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