Stormy climate at G7 as Trump goes his own way

2017-05-27 17:04
G7 leaders Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, US President Donald Trump and Italian Prime Minister Paolo Gentiloni pose for a photograph. (Sean Kilpatrick, the Canadian Press via AP)

G7 leaders Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, US President Donald Trump and Italian Prime Minister Paolo Gentiloni pose for a photograph. (Sean Kilpatrick, the Canadian Press via AP)

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Taormina - G7 nations on Saturday hit an impasse over climate change as US President Donald Trump rebuffed pressure to toe the collective line in the club of powerful democracies.

Trump tweeted that he would reveal his hand only next week as to whether he will keep the United States in the Paris accord, a global pact on curbing carbon emissions that he vowed to jettison when campaigning for the White House.

Topic of climate

The Group of Seven leading economies were set to acknowledge only that six members were committed to upholding the 2015 accord, while the US continues to reflect on the matter, delegates said.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who also crossed swords with Trump on free trade at the G7, complained that the US president was keeping his colleagues in the dark.

"The whole discussion on the topic of climate was very difficult, not to say very unsatisfactory," she told reporters, labelling the G7 deadlock as "six against one".

After starting his first presidential trip abroad wreathed in smiles, Trump is ending it with rebukes, upbraiding America's European partners over military spending, trade and global warming.

An enduring motif of the G7, which represents the lion's share of global economic output, has been to champion free trade.

Economic change

At last year's summit in Japan, leaders issued a lengthy communique in support of resisting protectionism, as well as helping refugees and fighting climate change.

But that was then, when Barack Obama still occupied the White House. Today, his successor is defiant about defying the G7 line after taking power on an "America First" platform.

The G7 statement was expected to try to strike a balance by noting benefits of globalisation while stressing the need to help those in developed economies who have been left behind by economic change, delegates said.

"We had very hard deliberations and discussions about trade but we found a reasonable solution," Merkel said, stressing the G7 was committed to open markets.

The G7 leaders began the concluding day of their annual summit in discussions with leaders from Ethiopia, Kenya, Niger, Nigeria and Tunisia.

The five African states are key players in the Mediterranean migration crisis, as countries of origin or transit for hundreds of thousands of migrants attempting to reach Europe via perilous crossings of the Mediterranean.

The G7's Italian presidency placed this year's summit on an ancient hilltop resort in Sicily to underline the proximity of the crisis.

Pitfalls of migration

But even that has prompted discord among participants as Trump, according to Italian sources and activists, resisted the hosts' desire to issue a declaration underlining the benefits as well as pitfalls of migration.

That sort of language is anathema to a White House that wants to impose a ban on travellers from six Muslim-majority countries.

According to Merkel, the final G7 text would "not go as far as the Italian presidency originally wanted" but a "reasonable" compromise had been reached.

Trump reportedly described the Germans as "bad, very bad" in their trade practices while visiting Brussels this past week.

Read more on:    g7 summit  |  us  |  italy  |  germany  |  economy  |  climate change  |  migration

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