Rifts arise be­tween Trump, G7 lead­ers

Fel­low lead­ers agree on coun­tert­er­ror­ism, but clash with U.S. pres­i­dent on cli­mate and trade

The Hamilton Spectator - - CANADA & WORLD - JOANNA SMITH

TAORMINA, ITALY — Don­ald Trump and his six fel­low G7 lead­ers, who seemed to take up a lot less space next to the larger-than-life U.S. pres­i­dent, agreed Fri­day to do more to counter vi­o­lent ex­trem­ism, but re­mained far apart on is­sues such as cli­mate change and free trade.

A state­ment, sep­a­rate from the not-yet-com­plete fi­nal com­mu­niqué, said that while the G7 is al­ready com­mit­ted to the fight against ter­ror­ism, Mon­day’s deadly at­tack in Manch­ester has driven home the need to step up ef­forts — and quickly.

“We will bring the fight against ter­ror­ism to a higher level by re­lent­lessly pre­vent­ing, in­ves­ti­gat­ing and pros­e­cut­ing ter­ror­ist acts, their per­pe­tra­tors and sup­port­ers,” said the text of a joint state­ment is­sued in the medieval Si­cil­ian town of Taormina.

“Our shared sys­tem of val­ues and norms, re­spect for hu­man rights and cul­tural di­ver­sity, the pro­mo­tion of fun­da­men­tal free­doms and the prin­ci­ples on which our so­ci­eties are built will re­main a bea­con for our com­mon ac­tion and the first and best de­fence against this com­mon threat.”

To that end, the lead­ers promised mea­sures that in­cluded coun­ter­ing on­line ter­ror­ist pro­pa­ganda and re­cruit­ment, bet­ter in­tel­li­gence-shar­ing to con­front the threat of for­eign fight­ers, in­creased co-op­er­a­tion among bor­der agen­cies and work­ing on so­cial in­clu­sion as a way to pre­vent rad­i­cal­iza­tion.

There was, how­ever, a long way to go be­fore the lead­ers could ar­rive at a happy con­sen­sus on other is­sues.

Prime Min­is­ter Justin Trudeau went into the meet­ing in­tend­ing to cham­pion the ben­e­fits of free trade and a ction on cli­mate change at the sum­mit, even with Trump try­ing ever harder to steer the world in a dif­fer­ent di­rec­tion.

“There are clearly some ar­eas where the Cana­dian po­si­tion may not be uni­ver­sally em­braced,” said For­eign Af­fairs Min­is­ter Chrys­tia Free­land.

A Cana­dian gov­ern­ment of­fi­cial with knowl­edge of the ne­go­ti­a­tions said stick­ing points such as in­ter­na­tional trade and the Paris agree­ment on cli­mate change, which Trump has promised to aban­don, would likely keep talks go­ing through the night.

That, it turned out, was an un­der­state­ment.

While Canada, Italy, Ger­many, France, Bri­tain and Ja­pan con­firmed their com­mit­ment to the Paris agree­ment, Trump — who promised dur­ing the cam­paign to aban­don the ac­cord — had not yet made up his mind, said Ital­ian Prime Min­is­ter Paolo Gen­tiloni.

“He said: ‘I would rather take my time and un­der­stand the is­sues and then get to the right de­ci­sion on that,’” said chief eco­nomic ad­viser, Gary Cohn. Trump doesn’t want any­one to think he does not care about the en­vi­ron­ment, Cohn added: “His views are evolv­ing. He came here to learn and get smarter.”

And on trade, Trump was caught hav­ing stoked a con­tentious fire, as the Ger­man news mag­a­zine Der Spiegel re­ported the pres­i­dent had told lead­ers of the EU be­fore the sum­mit be­gan that the Ger­mans were “bad” for hav­ing a large trade sur­plus with the United States.

Cohn sought to clar­ify the sit­u­a­tion by ex­plain­ing that Trump had noted: “I don’t have a prob­lem with Ger­many. I have a prob­lem with Ger­man trade.”

Trudeau, mean­while, was de­scribed by his for­eign af­fairs min­is­ter as seek­ing com­mon ground among the seven lead­ers, while stand­ing firmly be­hind Canada’s po­si­tions.

“We’re al­ways go­ing to be clear at these meet­ings that cli­mate change is a hugely im­por­tant is­sue,” Free­land said. “It’s hugely im­por­tant for Cana­di­ans, and we are proud to be tak­ing a strong stand at home, a strong stand around the world on this is­sue.”

The same thing goes for free trade, she added. “Canada be­lieves very strongly in a rules-based in­ter­na­tional trad­ing or­der. We’re a trad­ing na­tion and we’re al­ways go­ing to stand up for that.”

Trudeau, who met briefly Fri­day with Bri­tish Prime Min­is­ter Theresa May, also has a face-to-face with Trump sched­uled for Satur­day.

The Lib­eral gov­ern­ment had hoped to se­cure a meet­ing to con­tinue to press its case on the North Amer­i­can Free Trade Agree­ment and other cross-bor­der is­sues.

Trudeau is ex­pect­ing to find an ally on free trade, cli­mate change and other so-called pro­gres­sive is­sues in Macron, the newly elected French pres­i­dent with whom he had a bi­lat­eral meet­ing Fri­day.

Macron high­lighted their shared rel­a­tive youth as he spoke of how they can deal with shift­ing al­liances and po­lit­i­cal up­heaval around the globe.


Prime Min­is­ter Justin Trudeau walks through the town of Taormina, Italy, Fri­day as he at­tends the G7 sum­mit.

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