Trump diplomacy front and center at G7 summit

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President Donald Trump listens during a meeting with French President Emmanuel Macron during the G-7 summit, Friday, June 8, 2018, in Charlevoix, Canada. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

Leaders of the Group of Seven industrialized nations have wrapped up their first of a two-day summit in Canada. Even so, despite the smiles and handshakes, tensions over trade are simmering.

CGTN’s Roee Ruttenberg reports.

Donald Trump arrived in Quebec on Friday, but begrudgingly. The U.S. President reportedly asked aides why he should bother going to the G7 Summit in Canada.

Trump has been at odds over trade, quite publicly with the other leaders from the group of industrialized nations. This year’s meeting comes just days after the Trump administration slapped import duties on steel and aluminum from its long-time allies. Those duties including the summit host country, Canada.

G7 finance ministers, meeting last weekend, had already rebuked the U.S. president. The other six nations promised a unified front against Trump’s “America First” policies.

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau met with Trump just hours after the U.S. president publicly criticized him. Regardless, Trudeau tried to put on a friendly face.

“We both got elected on a commitment to growth of the middle class and helping those working hard to join it, and that’s what we’re going to stay focused on,” Trudeau said.

“Our relationship is very good,” President Trump replied. “We are actually working on cutting tariffs and making it fair for both countries.”

Before leaving Washington, Trump suggested the U.S. was actually the victim.

“We have massive trade deficit with almost every country. We will straighten that out and I’ll tell you what, it’s what I do. It won’t even be hard. And in the end we’ll all get along,” Trump said.

However, differences on topics, including climate change, were on display.

“I would say it’s more honest to name the differing views and try to overcome them than to pretend that everything is in order,” German Chancellor Angela Merkel said.

Trump also suggested that Russia should have a place in the group again. It was kicked out in 2014, in response to what Western nations called its illegal annexation of Crimea from Ukraine.

The new Italian Prime Minister supported the idea, while a spokesman for the Canadian foreign minister said Ottawa’s position remained unchanged.

“I feel there is a lot of speculation about plus G6 plus one or G7 minus one or G7 plus one but let’s leave 7 as it is. It’s a lucky number, at least in our culture,” added Donald Tusk, President of the European Council.

A spokesman for the Kremlin said Russia has other priorities.

In convincing Trump to attend the summit, White House advisers reportedly told him that skipping it would make him look like he was running away from a fight he had started. He’s still planning to leave early. 


Aurel Braun talks tensions at the G-7 Summit

CGTN’s Jessica Stone spoke to Aurel Braun for more insight on developments coming out of this year’s G-7 Summit. Braun is a Professor of International Relations and Political Science at the University of Toronto.