G7: Trump isolated on trade and Russia as meeting begins

Media captionTrump to G7: ‘They should let Russia come back in

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

The 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 EU members attending the summit all agreed that should not happen.

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

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

“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.

G7 officials told Reuters that the leaders were unlikely to issue a joint statement when the meeting ends due to the divisions.

The G7 summit, which groups Canada, the US, the 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% of global net worth, meet annually. Economics tops the agenda, although the meetings now always branch off to cover major global issues.

What did Mr Trump say about Russia?

Mr Trump said he regretted the meeting had shrunk in size.

“You know, whether you like it or – 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. They should let Russia come back in,” he said.

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.

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EPA

Image caption

All smiles but plenty to argue about – leaders of the G7 countries and top EU officials gather in Quebec

But later Germany’s Angela Merkel said all the EU members there, including Mr Conte, 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.

Trump arrives with a bang

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.

How do other G7 members see trade?

Mr 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”.

Mr Trump departed for the meeting promising action.

Before leaving he again criticised other nations for their treatment of the US but predicted tensions would ease and “we’ll all be in love again”.

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

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

Media captionDairy wars: Why is Trump threatening Canada over milk?

What else can we expect in Quebec?

Mr 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
  • Climate change and oceans

According to the leaders’ programme, Mr Trump will be around for the economic and security issues being discussed on Friday but will miss climate change, the environment and probably gender equality on Saturday.

The US president was very much the odd man out on climate change during the G7 in Italy last year, later announcing his intention to withdraw from the landmark Paris agreement.

Iran is also a big sticking point. Mr Trump recently ditched the 2015 agreement with Tehran that aimed to curb its nuclear programme. This angered the other signatories who have since sought to shore it up.

Previous G7 meetings have seen huge protests, and about 8,000 soldiers and police officers are expected to be on hand during the Quebec event.

Media captionG7 summit: Trapped in the world’s most secure house

G7: Trump isolated on trade and Russia as meeting begins

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