Trump stares down ‘al­lies’ but marks them up

Ten­sions rise at G7 sum­mit over trade war

The Irish Mail on Sunday - - NEWS - By Claire Scott and Si­mon Wal­ters claire.scott@mailon­sun­day.ie

THIS is the in­cred­i­ble mo­ment that US pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump stared down fel­low world lead­ers at the G7 sum­mit over his con­tro­ver­sial trade tar­iffs.

The im­age shows the tetchy and dis­be­liev­ing at­mos­phere within the sum­mit as the lead­ers of the world’s seven largest economies met for the first time since the US an­nounced new steel and alu­minium im­port taxes.

The con­fronta­tion was just one more prob­lem for un­der-pres­sure British PM Theresa May, who yes­ter­day con­firmed that the UK white pa­per on Brexit will not be pub­lished un­til the end of June – de­scribed by Leo Varad­kar as ‘dis­ap­point­ing but not sur­pris­ing’.

The G7 pic­ture – re­leased by the As­so­ci­ated Press news agency – shows a smirk­ing Trump lock­ing eyes with France’s Em­manuel Macron, be­side Mrs May and a vis­i­bly in­cred­u­lous Ger­man chan­cel­lor An­gela Merkel, and an au­di­ence of other lead­ers and of­fi­cials.

It gives lie to com­ments Pres­i­dent Trump made af­ter the sum­mit, sug­gest­ing his in­ter­ac­tions with world lead­ers were ‘pos­i­tive’. ‘The re­la­tion­ship that I’ve had with the peo­ple, the lead­ers of th­ese coun­tries has been – I would re­ally rate it on the scale of zero to 10, I would rate it a 10.’

The im­age is likely to be in stark con­trast to Mr Trump’s next big meet­ing, in Sin­ga­pore, with North Korean dic­ta­tor Kim Jong-un, where he is hop­ing for a ma­jor diplo­matic coup in com­ing days.

But diplo­macy was seem­ingly in short sup­ply at the G7 sum­mit, with Mr Trump lash­ing out af­ter he was crit­i­cised for slap­ping steep steel tar­iffs on key al­lies – a move that has led to an EU threat to im­pose re­tal­ia­tory tar­iffs on €2.7bn of US im­ports. Warn­ing EU lead­ers not to strike back, he claimed the US was ‘like the piggy bank that ev­ery­one is rob­bing’, adding: ‘If they re­tal­i­ate, they’re mak­ing a mis­take.’

Mr Trump’s an­tics brought the cur­tain down on the most frac­tious G7 meet­ing in years. Nev­er­the­less, the US pres­i­dent has tried to play down the rifts, which in­clude ac­cus­ing Cana­dian PM and sum­mit host Justin Trudeau of be­ing ‘in­dig­nant’ and a bizarre white-knuckle hand­shake with Mr Macron dur­ing the Nato sum­mit.

Prior to his ar­rival on Fri­day, Mr Trump in­jected ad­di­tional con­tro­versy by sug­gest­ing that the G7 of­fer a seat at the ta­ble to Rus­sia, which was ousted from the group af­ter it an­nexed Crimea in 2014.

He said yes­ter­day that re-ad­mit- ting Rus­sia to the elite club would be ‘an as­set’, telling re­porters, ‘we’re look­ing for peace in the world’.

The US pres­i­dent, who left the sum­mit early ahead of the talks in Sin­ga­pore on Tues­day, fur­ther ruf­fled feath­ers when he ar­rived late for a G7 meet­ing on boost­ing gen­der equal­ity – to clear dis­ap­proval from Mrs Merkel and IMF boss Chris­tine La­garde. He also missed ses­sions on cli­mate change, clean en­ergy and ocean pro­tec­tion.

Mr Trump de­parted be­fore any res­o­lu­tion was an­nounced on the tra­di­tional joint state­ment from the seven in­dus­tri­alised na­tions in the group, which in ad­di­tion to the US and Canada, in­cludes Bri­tain, Italy, France, Ger­many and Ja­pan.

Mean­while, Mrs May is fac­ing a re­volt over her Brexit plans – which could lead to her be­ing top­pled – and throw ne­go­ti­a­tions into a dis­as­trous tail spin.

She revealed yes­ter­day that the white pa­per on the UK’s Brexit po­si­tion would not be pub­lished un­til af­ter the EU sum­mit later this month. Re­spond­ing, the Taoiseach said it was a ‘real prob­lem’, adding that ne­go­ti­a­tions af­ter that sum­mit would have to intensify ahead of the Oc­to­ber dead­line.

He said that Michel Barnier’s com­ments about the in­fea­si­bil­ity of ap­ply­ing the North­ern Ire­land ‘back­stop’ to all of the UK, ‘make sense’.

‘If we can re­solve some or all the is­sues in re­la­tion to Bor­der is­sues that re­late to Ire­land with a UK wide so­lu­tion, it is some­thing I’m en­thu­si­as­tic about,’ he said.

‘If they re­tal­i­ate they’re mak­ing a mis­take’

Ques­tions: Love Is­land con­tes­tant Ge­or­gia Steele

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