Is U.S. in or out?

Trump ends over­seas trip with­out mak­ing a de­ci­sion on the Paris cli­mate pact.

The Washington Post Sunday - - FRONT PAGE - BY KAREN DEY­OUNG AND PHILIP RUCKER karen.dey­oung@wash­ philip.rucker@wash­ Ste­fano Pitrelli in Giar­dini Naxos con­trib­uted to this re­port.

taormina, italy — Pres­i­dent Trump failed to com­mit to re­main­ing within the Paris cli­mate agree­ment dur­ing a two-day meet­ing with world lead­ers that ended here Satur­day, but he tweeted that he was still con­sid­er­ing it and would an­nounce a fi­nal de­ci­sion “next week.”

In a fi­nal com­mu­nique, the Group of Seven in­dus­tri­al­ized coun­tries said that the United States “is not in a po­si­tion to join the con­sen­sus.” The other six mem­bers reaf­firmed their com­mit­ment to swiftly im­ple­ment the 2015 ac­cord to limit green­house gas emis­sions.

The G-7 sum­mit marked the last stop of Trump’s first over­seas trip as pres­i­dent, a nine-day tour that in­cluded high-level dis­cus­sions in the Mid­dle East and with NATO, as well as a meet­ing with Pope Francis at the Vat­i­can.

Af­ter leav­ing this pic­turesque town on the rugged Si­cil­ian hill­sides, Trump went by he­li­copter to the U.S. naval air sta­tion at Sigonella on the is­land to board Air Force One for the flight home. He summed up his jour­ney in a rous­ing cam­paign-style speech to as­sem­bled U.S. ser­vice mem­bers at the base, promis­ing it would pave the way for “a lot of strength” and “a lot of peace.”

“From Saudi Ara­bia to Is­rael to NATO to the G-7, we made ex­tra­or­di­nary gains on this his­toric trip to ad­vance the se­cu­rity and pros­per­ity of the United States, our friends and our al­lies,” Trump said. “And we paved the way for a new era of co­op­er­a­tion among the na­tions of the world to de­feat the com­mon en­emy of ter­ror­ism.”

Trump re­flected on how many places he had vis­ited, say­ing, “We have been gone for close to nine days . . . and I think we hit a home run, no mat­ter where we are.”

Ear­lier, in an off-cam­era brief­ing for re­porters, Na­tional Eco­nomic Coun­cil Di­rec­tor Gary Cohn said of the cli­mate dis­cus­sions, “We’re all try­ing to get to the right place, re­spect­ful of each other.” He de­scribed a “very ro­bust con­ver­sa­tion . . . a lot of give and take” in dis­cus­sions that in­cluded lead­ers from Ja­pan, Bri­tain, France, Ger­many, Canada and Italy.

Asked whether Trump had given a sign of which way he was lean­ing on the ac­cord, which he called a job killer and vowed to rip up dur­ing his cam­paign, Cohn said, “I don’t know.”

Af­ter a first round of meet­ings on Fri­day, Cohn, who fa­vors re­tain­ing the cli­mate agree­ment, had said Trump’s po­si­tion was “evolv­ing.”

Na­tional se­cu­rity ad­viser H.R. McMaster, who joined the brief­ing with Cohn, said that Trump had “de­liv­ered on all three” of his core ob­jec­tives for the trip: reaf­firm­ing Amer­i­can global lead­er­ship and al­liances; so­lid­i­fy­ing “key re­la­tion­ships” with world lead­ers; and bring­ing a mes­sage of tol­er­ance and unity against ter­ror­ism to Mus­lims, Jews and Chris­tians.

Both McMaster and Cohn re­fused to re­spond to ques­tions about Trump se­nior ad­viser and son-in-law Jared Kush­ner, the sub­ject of a new con­tro­versy roil­ing Wash­ing­ton af­ter a Wash­ing­ton Post ar­ti­cle re­vealed that he had dis­cussed with the Rus­sian am­bas­sador to the United States the pos­si­bil­ity of es­tab­lish­ing a back-chan­nel line of com­mu­ni­ca­tions with Rus­sia.

“I’m not pre­pared to talk about it,” McMaster said, adding that he and Cohn were pre­pared to speak only about Trump’s trip.

Re­count­ing what they de­scribed as suc­cesses over the past week, they noted pledges by Arab coun­tries — made dur­ing Trump’s first stop in Saudi Ara­bia — to step up their co­or­di­na­tion in the fight against ter­ror­ism, in­clud­ing a re­newed crack­down on mil­i­tant fi­nanc­ing and end­ing de­struc­tive Ira­nian ac­tiv­ity in the re­gion.

Sunni Saudi Ara­bia, as well as other Sunni Mus­lim al­lies, is “Amer­ica’s strong­est part­ner in the Mus­lim world and ar­guably . . . the strong­est Mus­lim voice,” McMaster said in a com­ment that may roil the Shi­ite mi­nor­ity that makes up about 15 per­cent of Mus­lims.

Cohn spoke of the most “amaz­ing deals that have re­ally been made by an ad­min­is­tra­tion ever” that Trump had clinched in Riyadh, in­clud­ing both pri­vate-sec­tor in­vest­ments and arms sales. He put the to­tal at “close to half a tril­lion” dol­lars, although the ad­min­is­tra­tion ini­tially set it at $380 bil­lion and did not pro­vide de­tails of the agree­ments.

McMaster called “base­less” re­ports that Euro­pean lead­ers were con­cerned about Trump’s fail­ure to re­state the U.S. com­mit­ment to Ar­ti­cle 5 of the NATO char­ter dur­ing an al­liance sum­mit in Brus­sels. The pro­vi­sion pledges all 28 NATO mem­bers to treat an at­tack against any of them as an at­tack against all.

“He did not make a de­ci­sion not to say it. It was im­plicit in the speech,” McMaster said of Trump’s ad­dress to the al­liance, in which he re­called that Ar­ti­cle 5 had been in­voked only once, af­ter the Septem­ber 2001 ter­ror­ist at­tacks in the United States. “It’s a mat­ter of fact that the United States and the pres­i­dent stand firmly be­hind our Ar­ti­cle 5 com­mit­ment,” McMaster said.

He said that “many of the al­lies” had pri­vately ap­proached him and the pres­i­dent to thank Trump for ag­gres­sively press­ing NATO mem­bers to spend more on de­fense.

On the cli­mate agree­ment, Cohn said that he did not know where Trump was in his think­ing. “What you’re ask­ing me to do is tell you what’s in­side the pres­i­dent’s mind. I’m not qual­i­fied to do that,” said Cohn, who has briefed the pres­i­dent nu­mer­ous times on the is­sue and at­tended G-7 meet­ings about it.

When asked why Trump had not held a news con­fer­ence or spo­ken at any length with re­porters ac­com­pa­ny­ing him on his trav­els, Cohn said Trump had been work­ing “non­stop.” Pres­i­dents tra­di­tion­ally hold news con­fer­ences when they travel over­seas.

“One thing you have to ad­mit,” Cohn said of Trump, “since he left last Fri­day, he has put in 14-, 15-, 18-, 20-hour” days of work.

When it was pointed out that ev­ery other leader at the G-7 had sched­uled a news con­fer­ence at the con­clu­sion of the meet­ing, Cohn, who was speak­ing in front of a tele­vi­sion screen on which Ital­ian Prime Min­is­ter Paolo Gen­tiloni was ad­dress­ing the me­dia and tak­ing ques­tions, Cohn said, “I’m not sure that’s true.”

Not far from the sum­mit meet­ing, which was held in a his­toric monastery-turned-lux­ury ho­tel on a cliff over­look­ing the Io­nian Sea, sev­eral thou­sand demon­stra­tors had as­sem­bled in the town of Giar­dini Naxos to march to­ward po­lice bar­ri­cades.

One group car­ried ban­ners ob­ject­ing to Europe’s treatment of mi­grants from Africa and the Mid­dle East. An­other, call­ing it­self Women Against Trump, planned to protest what marchers said was the pres­i­dent’s “sex­ism.”

By the time the protest march be­gan weav­ing its way along a nar­row, sea­side street to­ward the heav­ily armed se­cu­rity pres­ence, how­ever, Trump had al­ready left.

Demon­stra­tors who had ex­pressed con­cern that their ranks were in­fil­trated by an­ar­chist groups scat­tered as some among them pushed to­ward the bar­ri­cades and Ital­ian po­lice be­gan lob­by­ing tear gas at them.


Pres­i­dent Trump greets peo­ple af­ter speak­ing to U.S. troops and their fam­i­lies at a U.S. Navy air sta­tion in Si­cily at the end of his first for­eign trip as pres­i­dent. He boarded Air Force One there to head home.


Mem­bers of the au­di­ence cap­ture Trump’s re­marks at the air sta­tion in Sigonella be­fore the pres­i­dent re­turned to the United States. Trump char­ac­ter­ized his trip as “a home run, no mat­ter where we are.”

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