CANADA – Summit on


QUEBEC, Canada – Divisions between Donald Trump and the other leaders of the G7 nations have been laid bare at a summit in Canada.

The United States (US) president said Russia should be readmitted to the group of major industrialised nations following its expulsion for annexing Crimea.

But German Chancellor Angela Merkel said the European Union (EU) members attending the summit all agreed that should not happen.

Meanwhile, Canada has called Trump’s trade tariffs “illegal”.

Another of the attendees, European Council President Donald Tusk, warned that Trump’s stance on trade, climate change and Iran constituted a real danger.

From left: European Council President Donald Tusk, British Prime Minister Theresa May, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, United States President Donald Trump, Canada’s Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, French President Emmanuel Macron, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte and European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker pose for a photo at the G7 Summit in the Charlevoix city of La Malbaie, Quebec, Canada, June 8, 2018.

“What worries me most however is the fact that the rules-based international order is being challenged, quite surprisingly not by the usual suspects but by its main architect and guarantor: the US,” he said.

After rumours there would be no joint closing statement because of the divisions, President Trump told reporters he believed there would be one after all.

The G7 summit, which groups Canada, the US, the United Kingdom (UK), France, Italy, Japan and Germany, is being held in the town of La Malbaie in Quebec, Canada.

The leaders of the nations, which represent more than 60 per cent of global net worth, meet annually. Economics tops the agenda, although the meetings now always branch off to cover major global issues.

But later Germany’s Angela Merkel said all the EU members there, including Conte, had agreed that Russia could not be readmitted unless there was “progress” on Ukraine. Canada too says it remains opposed.

A Kremlin spokesperson meanwhile said they were interested in “other formats”, apart from the G7.

Russian President Vladimir Putin is currently in Beijing, where he was presented with a friendship medal by Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping.

Fellow members of what was then the G8 suspended Russia after it took control of Crimea from Ukraine. Tensions remain, in part over the poisoning of a former Russian spy in the UK.

By the BBC’s diplomatic correspondent, James Robbins

Relations between Donald Trump and America’s leading allies were already at a new low over trade tariffs before the president casually dropped his Russia hand-grenade.

Most G7 leaders think the decision to expel Russia in 2014 was right then, and remains right today. Even Russia itself seems lukewarm about rejoining.

In many ways, this seems to be a deliberate Donald Trump tactic, to distract attention from his war of words with the rest of the G7 over trade and protectionism.

President Trump dislikes the whole idea of the G7: a club of nations which traditionally comes together around shared values rooted in a world order based on agreed rules. Last to arrive, he’ll also be first to leave.

Trump’s imposition of tariffs has sparked anger, with even US allies falling subject to them. The move has brought fears of a trade war.

Canadian Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland said “Canada will not change its mind when it comes to the illegal and absolutely unjustified application of tariffs on steel and aluminium”.

Trump said on Friday that the US and Canada were working on cutting tariffs “and making it all very fair for both countries”.

“We’ve made a lot progress today,” he said, adding that the relationship between the two countries “is probably better than ever”.

Trump said he regretted the meeting had shrunk in size.

“You know, whether you like it or not – and it may not be politically correct – but we have a world to run and in the G7, which used to be the G8, they threw Russia out,” he said. “They should let Russia come back in.”

He found support in the shape of the newly installed Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte, who tweeted that it was “in the interests of everyone” for Russia to be readmitted.

UK Prime Minister Theresa May has said she wants the EU to act with restraint and proportion in retaliating to the US tariffs.

Unlike Macron and Trudeau, she will not be having a bilateral meeting with Trump but insisted on Friday it was not a snub.

Trump is leaving early to head to Singapore for his landmark summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, meaning he will miss some of the topics advanced by Mr Trudeau.

The five themes for this year’s summit are inclusive economic growth; gender equality and women’s empowerment; world peace and security; jobs of the future and Climate change and oceans.

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