President Donald Trump participated in what turned out to be a difficult G7 Summit in Quebec last Friday, June 8, where he met with leaders of six other industrialized nations being Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, and the U.K.
Amidst an ongoing trade war with allied nations, Trump threatened to stop trades with countries that did not remove tariffs on U.S. goods — a move he said was a “very profitable answer.”
“We have a tremendous trade imbalance,” said Trump during a Saturday press conference following the summit. “With one country, we have $375 billion in trade deficits.”
Trump has imposed tariffs on aluminum and steel from Canada, Mexico, and the European Union in recent weeks. Just days before the G7, Trump posted a tweet aimed at Trudeau and Macron accusing the two of “charging the U.S. massive tariffs and creating non-monetary barriers.”
Tweeting again on Saturday, he said the actions were “killing our agriculture”, thus hurting U.S. farmers.
In a move overturning talks made during the meeting, Trump tweeted Saturday that he had instructed U.S. representatives not to endorse the G7 communique that had been made out at the summit.
The remark followed an announcement by Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau who following the summit, said that Canada would go through with retaliatory tariffs on July 1.
He said he told Trump that “it would be with regret but it would be with absolute clarity and firmness that we move forward with retaliatory measures on July 1, applying equivalent tariffs to the ones that the Americans have unjustly applied to us.”
“Canadians, we’re polite, we’re reasonable, but we also will not be pushed around,” said Trudeau.
Trump also at the G7, called for Russia to readmitted into the G7, despite Russia’s occupation in Crimea.
“I think it would be an asset to have Russia back in,” said Trump at a press conference at the summit. “I think it would be good for the world. I think it would be good for Russia. I think it would be good for the United States. I think it would be good for all of the countries of the current G7. I think the G8 would be better.”
Formerly part of what was the G8, Russia was suspended from the group in 2014 as the majority of the group’s member countries united against its occupation of Crimea — the first breach of a European country’s borders since World War II.
“I would say that the G8 is a more meaningful group than the G7, absolutely,” said the U.S. president.
Of the annexation, he said, “You’ll have to ask Obama, because he was the one that let Crimea get away.”
German Chancellor Angela Merkel said that talks of letting Russia back in were not on the table.
“We agree that a return by Russia to the G7 format cannot happen as long as there isn’t any substantial progress in regard to the problems with Ukraine. That was a common view,” said Merkel at a press conference Friday.
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau echoed the consensus on Saturday, June 9 and said that Trump’s request was “not something we are even remotely looking at.”
French President Emmanuel Macron said to journalists Saturday that Russia would be able to rejoin the summit if Moscow were to honor the Minsk agreements which were meant to end the crisis in Ukraine.
“For four years, we have been saying we will extend again if and when the Minsk agreements are respected,” said Macron. “We will, but only when and if the Minsk agreements are respected. So it’s up to Russia now. As soon as the agreements are upheld, we will open the game. And that’s really my wish. I’d like to have a G8 in Beatrix next year and that will be because the Russians fulfill the conditions of the Minsk agreements.”
Historic Summit with North Korea
Trump’s rocky G7 summit was followed by a historic and much awaited meeting with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un in Singapore on Tuesday, June 12 where the two signed a broad statement calling for a “firm and unwavering commitment to complete denuclearization of the Korean peninsula.”
The meeting was the first to happen between a North Korean leader and sitting U.S. president.
“We’re starting that process very quickly — very, very quickly,” said Trump regarding North Korea’s willingness to denuclearize.
When asked if he trusted Kim, Trump said, “I do. I do.”
“I think he wants to get it done. I really feel that very strongly,” he added, before acknowledging previously failed attempts.
Trump also said that the U.S. military would stop joint U.S. and South Korea military exercises which have taken place since the 1970s, and have long aggravated North Korea.
“We will be stopping the war games, which will save us a tremendous amount of money,” said Trump. “Plus I think it is very provocative.
South Korean President Moon Jae-in said, “At this moment, we need to figure out President Trump’s accurate meaning and intention.”
Asked about the death of Otto Warmbier, a U.S. college student who was released by North Korea last year and died soon after returning to the U.S., Trump said, “I think without Otto this would not have happened.”
“It was a terrible thing, it was brutal. But a lot of people started to focus on what was going on, including North Korea. I really think Otto is someone who did not die in vain,” said Trump.
Among the U.S. Delegation was Department of State Secretary Mike Pompeo; White House Chief of Staff, General John Kelly; National Security Advisor, Ambassador John Bolton; Press Secretary Sarah Sanders; U.S. Ambassador to the Philippines, Sung Kim; and Deputy Assistant to the President for Asian Affairs, Matthew Pottinger. (Rae Ann Varona/AJPress)