LA MALBAIE, Quebec (AP) - President Donald Trump charged into a summit of major industrialized nations on Friday for contentious trade talks, injecting fresh drama into an already tense meeting by calling for the reinstatement of Russia, which was ousted for its annexation of Crimea.
Trump made the comment at the White House Friday after hours of further escalating his rhetoric against longtime allies over U.S. trade practices.
“Why are we having a meeting without Russia in the meeting?” Trump asked. “They should let Russia come back in because we should have Russia at the negotiating table.”
Solidifying his solo status on the world stage, Trump also lashed out at longtime allies over their criticism of his trade policies. He arrived behind schedule and planned an early exit from the G-7 meeting.
Russia was ousted from the elite group in 2014 as punishment for President Vladimir Putin’s annexation of Crimea and support for pro-Russian separatists in Ukraine. In the U.S., special counsel Robert Mueller is investigating whether Trump’s campaign colluded with Russia in a bid to sway the 2016 presidential election in his favor.
Trump saluted Canadian Mounties as he was greeted at an airport at a military base in Quebec. He arrived Friday at the annual gathering, held this year at a picturesque Quebec resort, but will leave Saturday morning before the event is over, heading to Singapore for his highly anticipated summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un. The White House announced his travel plans after French President Emmanuel Macron and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau signaled they would use the G7 event to take a stance against new U.S. tariffs on steel and aluminum imports.
At a joint press conference on Thursday, Macron said: “A trade war doesn’t spare anyone. It will start first of all to hurt U.S. workers.” Trudeau, for his part, said Trump’s action would hurt American workers as well as Canadians, adding he hoped to get Trump to realize it was “counterproductive.”
As tempers frayed, Trump had a ready retort, via tweet: “Please tell Prime Minister Trudeau and President Macron that they are charging the U.S. massive tariffs and create non-monetary barriers. The EU trade surplus with the U.S. is $151 Billion, and Canada keeps our farmers and others out. Look forward to seeing them tomorrow.”
Despite the drama, Trump and Trudeau had a cordial greeting Friday, shaking hands and smiling for photographers on the lawn outside the resort overlooking the St. Lawrence River. The G-7 leaders were set to dine on Arctic char and buckwheat salad at a working lunch.