The Guardian, UK: Donald Trump has left the G7 network of global cooperation in disarray after he pulled the US out of a previously agreed summit communique, blaming the Canadian prime minister Justin Trudeau whom he derided as “dishonest and weak”.
The US president, who arrived at the summit in Canada late and left early to fly to Singapore to prepare for his summit with Kim Jong-un, shocked fellow leaders with a bellicose press conference on Saturday in which he attacked the trade policies of other countries.
The US had nevertheless appeared to agree a form of words on contentious issues thanks to an all-night negotiating session by officials from all sides.
But after leaving for Singapore, Trump tweeted personal attacks on Trudeau and said that he had told his representatives not to sign the summit communique, turning what had already been a tense meeting of the world’s leading industrialised democracies into a fiasco.
“PM Justin Trudeau acted so meek and mild,” he tweeted. “Only to give a news conference after I left saying that ‘us tariffs were kind of insulting’ and ‘he will not be pushed around’.
“Very dishonest and weak” he claimed, adding in a separate tweet: “I have instructed our US reps not to endorse the communique.”
Based on Justin’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!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 9, 2018
PM Justin Trudeau of Canada acted so meek and mild during our @G7 meetings only to give a news conference after I left saying that, “US Tariffs were kind of insulting” and he “will not be pushed around.” Very dishonest & weak. Our Tariffs are in response to his of 270% on dairy!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 9, 2018
Journalists traveling on Air Force One to Singapore with Trump had been told that the US had decided to be part of the joint communique, which represented a minimal show of unity amid deep disagreements between Trump and the other six leaders over trade. The reporters only discovered when the plane landed on the Greek island of Crete to refuel that the president had changed his mind.
Even for a presidency as capricious as Trump’s, his action marked a new blurring of lines between his personal feelings towards other leaders, and US government policy. It was also the latest example of Trump’s use of much harsher language towards fellow democratically-elected leaders of allied countries than to strongmen leaders of enemy and adversary nations.
A few minutes before Trump sent out his inflammatory tweets, his hawkish national security security adviser, John Bolton, appeared to anticipate them by sending a tweet of his own, deriding the G7 summit he had just attended.
“Just another G7 where other countries expect America will always be their bank. The President made it clear today. No more,” Bolton said.
Bolton has been sidelined in talks with the North Koreans, but the last-minute turnaround on the G7 represents a win for his unilateralist approach to US foreign policy.
The tweets also represent a blow to the French president Emmanuel Macronand the German chancellor Angela Merkel, who believed they had brokered a deal to smooth over tensions on US-European trade.
The communique said the leaders of the United States, Canada, Britain, France, Italy, Germany and Japan agreed on the need for “free, fair, and mutually beneficial trade” and the importance of fighting protectionism.
“We strive to reduce tariff barriers, non-tariff barriers and subsidies,” the statement said.
Like last year, the communique made it clear that the US had a different view on climate change and how to fight it from the other six leaders, increasingly being referred to informally as the G6.
Governments tried to shore up the damage late on Saturday with statements backing the form of words they thought had been agreed.
“We are focused on everything we accomplished here at the #G7 summit,” a spokesman for Trudeau tweeted. “The prime minister said nothing he hasn’t said before – both in public, and in private conversations with the president.”
A senior UK government source said it stood by the commitments made in the communiqué, while a European Union official at the summit said it would “stick to the commitments made by all participants”.
The sensitive trade issue was the subject of Trump’s unscheduled press conference on Saturday morning. After slapping tariffs on steel and aluminum imports from Canada, the European Union and Mexico last week, Trump threatened at the summit to cut off trade with countries that treated the United States unfairly.
“We’re like the piggy bank that everybody is robbing,” he told reporters.
But Trudeau, in the media conference that irked Trump, rejected a US demand for a sunset clause in the North American trade agreement, Nafta, that would allow a member nation to withdraw after five years.
“There will not be a sunset clause … we will not, cannot sign a trade deal that expires automatically every five years,” he said.
Trudeau said he had told Trump that the talks had been made more complicated by last week’s imposition of tariffs on Canadian steel and aluminum, ostensibly for national security reasons. Canada has promised retaliatory measures on 1 July.
“I highlighted directly to the president that Canadians did not take it lightly that the United States has moved forward with significant tariffs,” said Trudeau. “Canadians, we’re polite, we’re reasonable, but we will also not be pushed around.”