Russian Federation should be attending a Group of Seven summit in Canada, U.S. President Donald Trump said on Friday, a controversial idea that even Moscow seemed to reject, as he headed for a chilly reception at the meeting where other leaders are set to clash with him over trade.
This year's G7 summit, which begins Friday in Canada, is set to be unusually ill-tempered, with the USA facing off against the other six in the group: Germany, France, Italy, Canada, Japan and the United Kingdom.
However, Trump did seek to lower the temperature after his arrival. He bantered easily with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, joking that the neighboring leader had "agreed to cut all tariffs and all trade barriers".
While Italy's new premier Giuseppe Conte, head of a populist coalition, had suggested he supports Trump's call, French President Emmanuel Macron assembled the European G7 leaders before the summit and confirmed unanimous opposition.
Still, the fundamental differences remained clear.
Mrs Merkel said it was too soon to say whether leaders would issue a common communique at the summit because the leaders had not yet addressed trade and climate. "And they understand it's going to happen".
Controversial trade tariffs imposed by the US were set to dominate the talks but last night US President Donald Trump said he believed progress had been made.
That comment has Trump squarely offside with this fellow G7 leaders, including Canada, who view Russia's annexation of Ukraine's Crimean Peninsula and its meddling in western elections as a major global security concern.
"The United States accounts for more than half of the GDP of the total G-7".
The official schedule, published by Newsweek here, shows a much more realistic agenda, including peace, gender equality, and climate change as well as economic growth for all.
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Officials from the European Union also attend the meetings.
Trump will arrive Friday at the annual gathering, held this year at a Quebec resort, but will leave Saturday morning before the event is over, heading to Singapore for his highly anticipated summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.
The president repeated his tough stance on tariffs, saying allies had been "taking advantage" of the USA on trade.
"Getting ready to go to the G-7 in Canada to fight for our country on Trade (we have the worst trade deals ever made)", he tweeted.
Where is the 44th G7 Summit being held and why are so numerous members frustrated with the United States? Macron said Thursday on Twitter, "The American President may not mind being isolated, but neither do we mind signing a 6 country agreement if need be".
Trump accused Trudeau of being "indignant" for "bringing up the relationship that the US and Canada had over the many years and all sorts of other things". But it won't solve the differences, particularly on trade, with the European Union moving toward retaliatory tariffs from July on key US goods.
The US President added that he also discussed with Trudeau the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA).
French leader Emmanuel Macron stressed however that the U.S. was no longer the sole economic superpower in the world and urged other industrialised countries to stick together. European Council President Donald Tusk warned that Mr Trump's stance on trade threatened the "rules-based worldwide order". "In the interest of all".
"It's a lucky number", Tusk said. "It's a lucky number".
"Russia is focused on other formats, apart from the G7", the spokesman stated, referring to alternative worldwide forums such as the G7 forum and BRICS, Sputnik News reported.