G7 summit gets underway amid global trade uncertainty

Leaders of the Group of Seven have arrived for a working meeting focused on looming threats to the global economy.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, U.S. President Donald Trump and the leaders of the other G-7 countries, France, Britain, Italy, Japan and Germany as well as the European Union are expected to discuss the spread of trade disputes, notably the U.S. trade war with China.

Sunday’s gathering in the French seaside resort of Biarritz comes on the heels of the first face-to-face meeting between Trump and British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who is hoping for a quick trade accord with the United States as Britain’s exit from the European Union approaches.

In a joint statement Sunday after their meeting, the two said they would create a working group on trade issues. Johnson has complained about American restrictions on imports of food and other items.

Trump has offered Johnson a boost, saying he’s the “right man” to deliver Brexit. Asked what his advice was for Britain’s departure from the European Union.

Trump responded: “He needs no advice. He is the right man for the job.”

Tackling tensions with Iran

The G7 leaders have agreed to allow French President Emmanuel Macron to address a message to Iran in their name.

The French presidency said Macron will hold talks with Iranian authorities on the basis of discussions at an informal dinner with Trump and other leaders on Saturday night in the French town of Biarritz.

No details were provided on the message but the French presidency said the goal is to prevent Iran from getting nuclear weapons and avoid further escalating tensions in the Middle East.

France holds the presidency of the G7 this year.

For several months, Macron has taken a lead role in trying to save the 2015 nuclear accord with Iran, which has been unraveling since Trump pulled the U.S. out of the agreement.

Macron met with Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif in Paris on Friday before heading to Biarritz for the summit.

Johnson, shaking the hand of French President Emmanuel Macron, congratulated him on his handling of a “difficult” discussion at the G-7 leaders’ dinner the night before.

Before taking their seats around the negotiating table Sunday morning to discuss the world economy, the leaders chatted and exchanged greetings.

Johnson and Macron have sparred over Britain’s plans to leave the European Union, but they were all smiles on Sunday. During a long handshake, Johnson told Macron “You did very well last night. My God, that was a difficult one.”

He added, in French, “bien joue” — or “well played.”

The summit has laid bare huge differences between longtime allies on a range of topics, from trade to climate change to Iran’s nuclear program.


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