Donald Trump ignites war of words with G7 allies

US leader withdraws support for summit communique and attacks ‘dishonest’ Trudeau

Speaking at the G7 summit, Canadian prime minister Justin Trudeau vows to go ahead with retaliatory trade tariffs on the US. Video: Reuters

 

The G7 meeting of global leaders descended into open acrimony after US president Donald Trump withdrew his support for the joint communique, hours after appearing to endorse it.

In a flurry of tweets sent from Air Force One on his way to Singapore, Mr Trump lashed out at Canadian prime minister Justin Trudeau, calling him “dishonest and weak” and accusing him of misrepresenting facts at his final press conference in Quebec.

Mr Trump said he had ordered his officials not to sign the final statement that traditionally marks the end of the summit.

The attack on the Canadian prime minister marked an extraordinary intervention by a sitting US president, threatening to destabilise relations between the two allies.

The tweets also represent a blow to French president Emmanuel Macron and German chancellor Angela Merkel, who believed they had brokered a deal to smooth over tensions on US-European trade.

It came as Mr Trump prepared to meet North Korean leader Kim Jong-un in Singapore – a meeting he hopes will become the defining foreign policy achievement of his presidency.

Rated ‘10’

Mr Trump apparently watched Mr Trudeau’s press conference aboard Air Force One, prompting the tweet storm. The president’s about-turn came hours after he claimed the meeting had been “tremendously, tremendously successful”, rating his relationship with the leaders of Canada, France and Germany as a “10”.

But as he left Quebec, he also lashed out at “ridiculous and unacceptable” tariffs on American exports, claiming the US had been a “piggy bank” for everyone else. “We’re like the piggy bank that everybody’s robbing – that ends,” he said.

The tweets elicited an icy response from France. The office of Mr Macron said: “International co-operation cannot be dictated by fits of anger and throwaway remarks.”

Meanwhile, Ms Merkel said she found the G7 summit a “sobering” and “depressing” experience, but that European leaders will not be “taken advantage of” on trade.

She conceded in an interview on German public television on Sunday that the meeting’s outcome “wasn’t a great thing”.

Mr Trudeau’s spokesman gave a guarded response to Trump’s comments, saying Canada was focusing on everything that had been accomplished at the summit. But earlier in the day, Mr Trudeau said Canada would “not be pushed around” by the US.

North Korea

Mr Trump and Mr Kim’s meeting will be the first time a sitting US president has met a leader from North Korea.

Mr Kim arrived at Changi airport in an Air China plane from Pyongyang on Sunday, while Mr Trump touched down at Paya Lebar airbase, having stopped in Crete en route from Canada.

Security is tight in Singapore as the two leaders prepare to meet. Their relationship has been a rollercoaster ride over the past 18 months, heightened by North Korea’s nuclear test in September 2017, after which Pyongyang said it had missiles that could reach the US.

The leaders are scheduled to meet at the Capella hotel on the tourist island of Sentosa on Tuesday to try to reach a deal on dismantling the North’s nuclear weapons programme in exchange for security guarantees.

Mr Trump stuck an optimistic note ahead of the meeting.

“It will certainly be an exciting day and I know that Kim Jong-un will work very hard to do something that has rarely been done before,” he tweeted.

Additional reporting: PA