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8 Jun, 2018 12:40

G6+1? Trump and US allies in heated exchanges ahead of key summit

G6+1? Trump and US allies in heated exchanges ahead of key summit

Typically billed as a gathering aimed at fostering international cooperation, this year’s G7 meeting is held in the shadow of a looming trade war between old allies, with heated exchanges between leaders of US, France and Canada.

Set to begin on Saturday in picturesque rural Quebec, the 44th meeting of the Group of Seven – Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the UK and the US – is off to a rocky start.

According to media reports, even as late as Thursday afternoon, Trump was rethinking his presence at the G7 meeting, telling advisers that there would be no point in attending the event since the US would be outnumbered on key issues. The summit comes after Trump slapped tariffs on steel and aluminum, and withdrew the US from the 2015 Iran nuclear deal – actions which have enraged Washington’s allies.

Combative remarks from French President Emmanuel Macron may have stirred Trump’s competitive spirit, and now it appears that the US President will use the meeting as an opportunity to double-down on his uncompromising trade policies.

Macron has been up in arms against Trump in both speeches and tweets, telling him that the other six countries can do well without Washington.

The French president also noted that even if the US insists on isolating itself from its allies, the Trump administration won’t last forever – and Europe can chart its own course.

”The six countries of the G7 without the United States, are a bigger market taken together than the American market,” he said. “There will be no world hegemony if we know how to organize ourselves. And we don't want there to be one.”

Trump wasted little time in launching a retaliatory Twitter strike, tweeting out hours later that Macron and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau “are charging the US massive tariffs and create non-monetary barriers. The EU trade surplus with the US is $151 Billion, and Canada keeps our farmers and others out.” He added: “Look forward to seeing them tomorrow."

Later, in a separate tweet that singled-out the summit’s host, Trump wrote that Trudeau “is being so indignant” by “bringing up the relationship that the US and Canada had over the many years and all sorts of other things...but he doesn’t bring up the fact that they charge us up to 300% on dairy — hurting our Farmers, killing our Agriculture!”

According to reports, in a phone conversation between the two leaders, Trump wrongly accused Canada of burning down the White House during the War of 1812 – an image that may serve as an appropriate backdrop to the two-day summit.

This year, the G7 meeting is supposed to focus on five themes, ranging from “investing in growth that works for everyone” to “advancing gender equality and women’s empowerment” – but judging from the participants’ Twitter accounts, a backwoods Quebec town may become Trump’s trade war Bunker Hill.

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