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09 June 2018, 06:15 | Kelvin Horton
On the eve of what is expected to be a tense, in-person meeting between the leaders at the G7 summit in Quebec, President Trump publicly took aim at Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and French President Emmanuel Macron for imposing "massive" economic burdens on the United States.
"Don't blame Mr Trump, blame the nations that have broken away".
Expectations for a breakthrough at the summit, however, are low, with US allies focused on avoiding rupturing the G7, which in its 42-year history has tended to seek consensus on major issues.
And he went on to further warn that the United States, under Mr Trump's presidency, now posed the biggest challenge to West's continued leadership on the global stage.
Trump said before departing from the White House for the G-7 summit in Canada. The remaining countries in the group include the United States, Canada, France, Great Britain, Germany, Italy and Japan.
Russian Federation was suspended from the group - then known as the G8 - in 2014 after the majority of member countries allied against Russia's annexation of Crimea, which Russian Federation continues to hold.
At home, Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer poured scorn on the Republican President's suggestion that Russian Federation should be readmitted to the G7. And swing he did on Twitter, responding to Macron's assertion that G7 nations would band together without the US.
"We will continue to demonstrate that we're interested in defending Canadian interests and, on top of that, it turns out I'm defending American interests because these tariffs they're putting forward are going to hurt American workers as well", Trudeau said Thursday. G7 officials had planned for their leaders to discuss ways to counter Russia's interference in their democracies. "And then we'll see what happens".
The US president sparred with both leaders over trade well into Thursday night, accusing the European Union and Canada of unfair business practices, and then resumed his polemic soon after 6am US time, complaining about Canadian dairy tariffs. Trump's policies have been more protectionist and confrontational, driven by a perception that the US has been the victim of poorly conceived trade deals.
Canada and the European Union have denounced the US tariffs and Ottawa has proposed levies on a range of USA goods next month while the European Union has pledged its own retaliatory measures.
Trade battle lines were drawn even before he arrived in a series of dueling tweets and statements between Trump and his onetime friend Macron.
Another point of contention for President Trump among his G-7 counterparts could be climate change, which is one of the main focal points of the G-7 summit. Mr. Trump is a constant surprise. "Quite surprisingly, it's not by the usual suspects, but by its main architect and guarantor".
But Trump, who frames his trade moves as a fulfillment of his campaign promises, is vowing to hold firm, tweeting Thursday: "Take down your tariffs & barriers or we will more than match you!" He has also refused to condemn the Russian strongman over the Kremlin's interference in the US presidential election, at one point suggesting he trusts Putin's denials of wrongdoing over the findings of his own intelligence agencies. Mr. Putin might be in his club as much as British Prime Minister Theresa May or Mr. Trudeau.
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