Trump sets fire to G7 pot
Claims US being taken advantage of
BRUISING for a fight, US President Donald Trump barrelled into the Group of Seven summit on Friday, confronting long-time US allies over a burgeoning trade dispute and insisting Russia should be brought back into the fold.
Trump joined the leaders of major industrialised nations after days of escalating conflict over new US tariffs he slapped on imports of steel and aluminum. Facing criticism from increasingly disillusioned allies, he punched back, uncowed by a growing global outcry.
“Look, all of these countries have been taking advantage of the US on trade,” Trump said, repeating his long-standing complaints about trade deficits and tariffs. “We have to straighten it out.”
However, Trump did seek to lower the temperature after his arrival. He bantered easily with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, joking that the neighbouring leader had “agreed to cut all tariffs and all trade barriers.”
And he emphasised a “good relationship” with French President Emmanuel Macron, saying they have a “little test” on trade, but predicting a positive outcome.
Still, the differences remained clear. Trump again railed against trade deficits with other countries and repeated that he may pursue separate negotiations with Canada and Mexico to replace the North American Free Trade Agreement.
Asked if Trudeau was upset he’d be leaving early, Trump joked, “He’s happy.”
Macron said there had been “open and direct” discussions, adding that he thought there was a way to get a “win-win” outcome on trade, though details remained unclear.
Before arriving at the meeting of the group, which some suggest Trump is pushing from the G7 into “G6 plus one,” he further stirred the pot by asking why Russia was excluded. “They should let Russia come back in because we should have Russia at the negotiating table,” he said.
Russia was ousted from the elite group in 2014 as punishment for President Vladimir Putin’s annexation of Crimea and support for pro-russian separatists in Ukraine.
In the US, special counsel Robert Mueller is investigating whether Trump’s campaign colluded with Russia in a bid to sway the 2016 presidential election in his favour.
Canadian Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland said the Russia issue “hasn’t been raised around the G7 table,” though she said there have been “some direct conversations in bilateral meetings”, adding “there are no grounds whatsoever for bringing Russia with its current behaviour back into the G7.”
Despite the tension, the president was greeted cordially by Trudeau as he arrived at the annual gathering, held this year at a picturesque Quebec resort. Other members of the G7 are France, Italy, Japan, Germany and Britain. The EU also attends.
Trump showed up late and left early yesterday, heading to Singapore for his meeting with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un.
He spent Friday participating in the rituals of the G7, including the formal greeting by host Trudeau, a group photo in front of the sparkling St. Lawrence River and a working lunch. – Ap/african News Agency (ANA)
Firefighters try to extinguish a blaze in a building in Mumbai, India, yesterday. Part of the building collapsed, injuring two firefighters.