US President Donald Trump has clashed with world leaders, including Washington allies, over climate change and trade at what EU officials call the most challenging meeting of the G7 in years.
The gathering on the Italian island of Sicily kicked off on Friday, with world leaders engaged in a heated argument with Trump, who is considering withdrawing from the landmark Paris climate accord.
“This is going to be the most challenging G7 meeting in years,” Donald Tusk, president of the EU Council, told reporters going into the G7 meeting. “It is no secret that some leaders have different positions on climate, on trade . . . Most importantly we have to defend the rule-based international order.”
The summit on Friday failed to make progress on narrowing differences between the US and its partners as Trump is still reviewing Washington’s position.
Gary Cohn, Trump's economic adviser, said the president’s “views are evolving, he came here to learn," adding, "His basis for decision ultimately will be what's best for the United States."
Trump has proposed to amend the Paris agreement, with his administration officials reportedly telling lobbyists and European diplomats that the United States will withdraw from the climate pact unless it secures concessions for the fossil fuel industry.
The Paris Agreement entered into force on November 4, 2016 and has been signed by 197 countries, of which 147 have now formally ratified it, which represent more than 75 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions.
The G7 meeting also agreed to step up efforts to fight terrorism following the suicide bombing in Manchester on Monday which left 22 people dead.
However, the remarks by Trump about climate change and his criticism of Germany’s trade surplus with the US soured the atmosphere.
“He (Trump) said they’re very bad on trade but he doesn’t have a problem with Germany. He said his dad is from Germany. He said ‘I don’t have a problem with Germany, I have a problem with German trade’.”
But one White House official said Trump frequently told his aides that he wanted Germany to export fewer cars to the US and instead manufacture more at car plants in America.