Trump clashes with world leaders at G7 meeting

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
From left : Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, US President Donald Trump, Italian Prime Minister Paolo Gentiloni, French President Emmanuel Macron, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, and British Prime Minister Theresa May pose for a family photo during the G7 Summit in Taormina, Sicily, Italy, May 26, 2017. (Photo by AFP)

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.

Trump arrives for a concert of La Scala Philharmonic Orchestra at the ancient Greek Theatre of Taormina during the Heads of State and of Government G7 summit, on May 26, 2017 in Sicily. (Photo by AFP)

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.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel and US President Donald Trump talk during a bilateral meeting at the Summit of the Heads of State and of Government of the G7, on May 26, 2017 in Taormina, Sicily. (Photo by AFP)

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.

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