Trump says he is open to talks with Iran

G7 summit sees US president soften stance on Iran and China – and praise French wine

US president Donald Trump spoke of significant progress with Iran at the G7 summit along with how he believes that UK prime minister Boris Johnson might have to leave with a no-deal. Video: The White House


French president Emmanuel Macron announced significant progress on defusing tension between US president Donald Trump and the governments of Iran and China at the close of an intense, three-day G7 summit in Biarritz.

Mr Macron said Iranian president Hassan Rouhani had agreed to meet Mr Trump to discuss ways of preserving the agreement on Iran’s nuclear programme, which Mr Trump renounced in May 2018. Mr Trump said that “if the circumstances were correct I would certainly agree” to meet Mr Rouhani.

“I want this meeting to happen, and I want an agreement between the US and Iran . . . We can have it done in a very short period of time,” Mr Trump said at his closing press conference with Mr Macron.

The leaders of Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the UK and US also agreed to reform the World Trade Organisation so that unfair trade practices are no longer possible.

Mr Trump welcomed a Chinese announcement that it wants to end the escalating trade war with the US, saying it proved his tariffs have been effective.

The summit made headway on a Franco-American dispute over the taxation of internet giants, agreeing to reach a multilateral accord on the issue next year. Until then, France and other countries will continue to impose their own national taxes on digital companies.

French wine

Mr Trump evaded a question about his intention to heavily tax French wine in retaliation, saying: “I confirm that the first lady loved your French wine.”

Mr Trump said he will invite Russian president Vladimir Putin to the G7 summit he plans to hold at his Miami resort next year.

Mr Macron said there was “no consensus” about inviting Russia to permanently rejoin the G8. Moscow was expelled in 2014, after annexing Crimea. But, as acting president of the G7 next year, Mr Trump will be free to invite Mr Putin on a one-time basis.

The leaders committed € 20 million to fighting fires in the Amazon, at a meeting on climate change which Mr Trump did not attend.

The US is “the number one energy producer in the world”, Mr Trump said. He boasted of US exports of liquefied natural gas, and of opening up oil exploration in Alaska and building a new pipeline. “I want the cleanest water on earth. I want the cleanest air on earth. I am an environmentalist,” he claimed.

US energy reserves represented “tremendous wealth”, Mr Trump said. “I am not going to lose that wealth on dreams, on windmills that are not working too well.”

Climate change

The summit was marked by heightened tensions between Mr Macron and the far right-wing Brazilian president Jair Bolsonaro. By singling out Mr Bolsonaro’s environmental policies as responsible for vast fires in the Amazon, Mr Macron ensured climate change would be a major issue at the summit.

Mr Bolsonaro laughed about an offensive comment regarding Brigitte Macron’s appearance, and a member of his cabinet called Mr Macron “an opportunistic cretin”.

“It’s sad, really sad, above all for Brazilians,” Mr Macron responded, adding that he hoped Brazilians would “very soon” have “a president whose behaviour is worthy of the office”.

Mr Macron said the summit made progress on resolving conflicts in Libya, Syria and Ukraine, as well as reducing tensions with Iran and China.

The optimistic conclusion gave the impression that all the world’s problems could be resolved. But, as Mr Trump said, regarding Iran, “Maybe it works and maybe it doesn’t.”