Trump stares down ‘allies’ but marks them up
Tensions rise at G7 summit over trade war
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more problem for under-pressure British PM Theresa May, who yesterday confirmed that the UK white paper on Brexit will not be published until the end of June – described by Leo Varadkar as ‘disappointing but not surprising’.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