United States President Donald Trump will depart Washington for the French seaside town of Biarritz where he’ll attend this year’s summit of the Group of 7 industrialized nations.
Climate Change, instability in the world economic order and a new arms race between the world’s top nuclear powers are just some of the issues likely to dominate discussion among the leaders of countries who represent 58% of global net wealth and 46% of global gross domestic product.
President Trump’s attendance expected to inject an air of unpredictability into this year’s event – much as he did at the last summit of the G7 in Canada last year.
Diplomatic customs out of the window, this is a President who does things his way. Whether praising his adversaries or insulting his allies, there is no calibrating the brash style that President Trump has come to epitomize – whether at home or abroad. And again appears to be gearing up for a butting of heads in France if his comments on ISIS are anything to go by.
“We’re holding thousands of ISIS fighters right now. And Europe has to take them. And if Europe doesn’t take them I’ll have no choice but to release them into the countries from which they came which is Germany and France and other places because we, we beat them, we captured them. We’ve got thousands of them. And now as usual our allies say oh no we don’t want them. Even though they came from France and Germany and other places. So we’re going to tell them, that we’ve already told them, take these prisoners that we’ve captured because the United States is not going to put them in Guantanamo for the next 50 years and pay for it.”
Who could forget last year’s G7 meeting in Quebec, Canada, at the height of President Trump’s trade dispute with America’s northern neighbour when he accused Ottawa of being a national security threat. At the conclusion of the summit, Canada’s Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said they would not be pushed around and would respond with retaliatory measures on new proposed US tariffs.
President Trump, who by then had departed the meeting on Air Force One, saw the live remarks and tweeted his withdrawal from the final agreed summit communiqué. Trump’s recent comments on Russia are also unlikely to be well received at this year’s event.
“So it was the G8 for a long time, and now it’s the G7, and a lot of the time, we talk about Russia. We’re talking about Russia because I’ve gone to numerous G7 meetings. And I guess President Obama, because Putin outsmarted him, President Obama thought it wasn’t a good thing to have Russia in, so he wanted Russia out. But I think it’s much more appropriate to have Russia in. It should be the G8 because a lot of the things we talk about have to do with Russia. So, I could certainly see it being the G8 again, and if somebody would make that motion, I would certainly be disposed to think about it very favorably.”
Adding insult, a tweet from the President in late July expressing frustration over trade and tax issues with G7 host France, going as far as to threaten tariffs on French wine. “I’ve always said American wine is better than French wine” – from a President who doesn’t drink alcohol.
UN Chief Antonio Guterres is also expected in Biarritz this weekend and is hoping the focus moves beyond the personalities in the room.
UN Spokesperson Eri Kaneko says, “The SG will participate in sessions on climate change, Africa and inequalities and he’ll be in meetings with world leaders and will stress the need for political will for example ahead of his climate action summit but while he’s there he’s also at the G7 to listen and he hopes to listen to the views of the world leaders on all the topics of the day – not just climate change, sustainable development but also issues such as trade or arms control and disarmament. We welcome the Presidency of the G7, president Macron stressing the importance of multilateralism. The SG hopes the G7 will be a forum for world leaders to get together to move forward in addressing the challenges of the day.”
Early indications are that the summit will conclude without an agreed statement- the first time since the meetings began in 1975. And a United States President more inclined to accept responsibility for the deepening rifts as a badge of honour.