Trump pulls out of joint G-7 statement, attacks Trudeau
LA MALBAIE, Que. вЂ” The annual G-7 summit appeared to have weathered tensions over President Donald TrumpвЂ™s threats of a tariff-fueled trade war until the mercurial American pulled out of a joint statement while citing вЂњfalse statementsвЂќ by Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.
It was an unprecedented attack on the leader of the U.S. neighbour and ally.
Trump was aboard Air Force One heading to an historic summit with North KoreaвЂ™s Kim Jong Un when he issued a pair of tweets Saturday criticizing the G-7 host and stepping back from the generally positive tone that had ended the two-day meeting. A few hours earlier, Trudeau had told reporters that all seven leaders had come together to sign the joint declaration.
Trudeau said he had reiterated to Trump that tariffs would harm industries and workers on both sides of the U.S.-Canada border. He said unleashing retaliatory measures вЂњis not something I relish doingвЂќ but that he wouldnвЂ™t hesitate to do so because вЂњI will always protect Canadian workers and Canadian interests.вЂќ
вЂњAs Canadians, we are polite, weвЂ™re reasonable, but also we will not be pushed around,вЂќ Trudeau said, and he described all seven leaders coming together to sign a joint declaration despite having вЂњsome strong, firm conversations on trade, and specifically on American tariffs.вЂќ
In the air by then, Trump tweeted: вЂњBased on JustinвЂ™s false statements at his news conference, and the fact that Canada is charging massive Tariffs to our U.S. farmers, workers and companies, I have instructed our U.S. Reps not to endorse the Communique as we look at Tariffs on automobiles flooding the U.S. Market!вЂќ
He followed up by tweeting: вЂњPM Justin Trudeau of Canada acted so meek and mild during our @G7 meetings only to give a news conference after I left saying that, вЂњUS Tariffs were kind of insultingвЂќ and he вЂњwill not be pushed around.вЂќ Very dishonest & weak. Our Tariffs are in response to his of 270% on dairy!вЂќ
A spokesman for Trudeau did not address TrumpвЂ™s insults in a statement. вЂњWe are focused on everything we accomplished here at the #G7 summit,вЂќ spokesman Cameron Ahmad said. вЂњThe Prime Minister said nothing he hasnвЂ™t said before вЂ” both in public, and in private conversations with the President.вЂќ
Reporters asked Trudeau for his reaction as he and his wife and another couple took an evening stroll, but the prime minister begged off. вЂњGood to see you guys вЂ¦ ItвЂ™s a beautiful evening, a great weekend,вЂќ he said.
Before leaving for Singapore, Trump had delivered a stark warning to AmericaвЂ™s trading partners not to counter his decision to impose tariffs on steel and aluminum imports. But Trudeau, whose nation was among those singled out by Trump, pushed back and said he would not hesitate to retaliate against his neighbour to the south.
вЂњIf they retaliate, theyвЂ™re making a mistake,вЂќ Trump declared before departing the annual summit of the Group of Seven, which includes Britain, Italy, France, Germany and Japan.
Trump himself insisted relationships with allies were a вЂњ10вЂќ just before he left the summit. But his abbreviated stay at this Quebec resort saw him continuing the same type of tough talk on trade as when he departed the White House, when he accused Trudeau of being вЂњindignant.вЂќ
The summit came during an ongoing trade dispute with China and served as a precursor to the unprecedented meeting with Kim, in which Trump has sought to extend a hand to the Asian autocrat who has long bedeviled the international order.
вЂњHis message from Quebec to Singapore is that he is going to meld the industrial democracies to his will вЂ” and bring back Russia,вЂќ said Steve Bannon, TrumpвЂ™s former campaign and White House adviser. Bannon said China is вЂњnow on notice that Trump will not back down from even alliesвЂ™ complaints in his goal of вЂ?America First.вЂќвЂ?
Speaking on Saturday during a rare solo news conference, Trump said he pressed for the G-7 countries to eliminate all tariffs, trade barriers and subsidies in their trading practices. He reiterated his longstanding view that the U.S. has been taken advantage of in global trade, adding, вЂњWeвЂ™re like the piggy bank that everybodyвЂ™s robbing, and that ends.вЂќ
He said U.S. farmers had been harmed by tariffs and other barriers and warned that U.S. trading partners would need to provide him with more favourable terms. вЂњItвЂ™s going to stop or weвЂ™ll stop trading with them,вЂќ he said.
Trump cited progress on reaching an agreement on the North American Free Trade Agreement with Canada and Mexico, saying the final outcome would lead either to an improved trade deal or separate pacts with the two U.S. neighbours. Trump said he was discussing two types of sunset provisions in which any of the countries could leave the deal. A Canadian official said the leaders discussed accelerating the pace of the talks.
But Trudeau objected strenuously to a sunset clause of any length. вЂњIf you put an expiry date on any trade deal, thatвЂ™s not a trade deal. ThatвЂ™s our unequivocal position,вЂќ he said.
Prior to his arrival on Friday, the president injected additional controversy by suggesting that the G-7 offer a seat at the table to Russia, which was ousted from the group in 2014. Trump said Saturday that re-admitting Russia to the elite club would be вЂњan asset,вЂќ telling reporters, вЂњWeвЂ™re looking for peace in the world.вЂќ Trump said he had not spoken with Russian President Vladimir Putin in a while.
Discussing RussiaвЂ™s absence, Trump made the vague comment that вЂњsomething happened a while ago where Russia is no longer in. I think it would be an asset to have Russia back in.вЂќ In fact, Russia was expelled from what was then the G-8 after it invaded and annexed Crimea and for its support for pro-Russia separatists in Ukraine.
Trump placed the blame on his predecessor, President Barack Obama. вЂњHe was the one who let Crimea get away вЂ” that was during his administration,вЂќ he said, adding: вЂњObama can say all he wants, but he allowed Russia to take Crimea. I may have had a much different attitude.вЂќ
It was not clear what Trump thought Obama should have done to prevent Putin from sending in Russian troops to seize the Black Sea peninsula from neighbouring Ukraine.
Trudeau said he told Trump that readmitting Russia вЂњis not something that we are even remotely looking at at this time.вЂќ
Thomas reported from Washington. Associated Press writers Jill Colvin and Darlene Superville in Washington, and Sylvie Corbet in Paris contributed to this report.