Trump buoyed by 'truly successful' G7, gears up for hosting 2020

BIARRITZ, FRANCE, Shabtai Gold (dpa)- US President Donald Trump walked away from this year's G7 summit with several wins - at least in the short-term - and highlighted "unity" among members, despite the alliance appearing increasingly fractious as the world order shifts.
Trump, who has been a disrupter at previous gatherings of organizations seen as the head of the Western-led order, touted a fresh round of trade talks with China and announced a path forward for a potential new deal with Iran.

The summit's host, French President Emmanuel Macron, was more than happy to oblige the US leader, as the two took turns at literal and metaphorical backslapping, heaping praise on one another and the success of the summit.
For Macron, being able to announce a new diplomatic path between Iran and the United States was a huge win, after months of relentless outreach by Paris to both countries, despite warnings that the efforts may never bear fruit.
"This is a truly successful G7, there was tremendous unity, there was great unity," Trump said. "You have been a spectacular leader on this," he told Macron at a joint press conference.
The two beamed at each other, having averted any serious crises during the three-day gathering of the leaders of the world's leading democratic economic powerhouses.
The G7 comprises the US, Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan. The European Union is also a participant. France invited several other leaders, notably of African countries.
The summit produced a one-page joint declaration - more than was expected - and served to show that the G7 alliance had survived a key gathering despite disagreements over trade and climate.
Trump repeatedly derided the media, who, in his view, were keen for a failure and to highlight quarrels.
That said, it was the White House itself which was leaking negative views on Macron as the summit was getting under way, though that quickly stopped by Saturday.
The US president, who will host next year's summit, threw a curveball in the final hours of the G7, saying he will likely bring the event to Miami, Florida.
More shockingly, he said his own golf resort would be the probable venue, raising concerns that he would profit from his presidency, in a move sure to rile his critics at home who already are upset that the real estate mogul turned politician pays official visits to his own hotels.
Trump also spoke out in favour of inviting Russia back to the G7 next year, after it was ousted for annexing Crimea in 2014.
The problem, Trump explained, is that Putin is a "proud" person and he may not want to be invited as a guest to a club of which he was once a full member.
Trump said that dealing with global crises without Russia was difficult, noting that Moscow is intimately involved in several hotspots, from Ukraine to Syria and Libya and out to North Korea.
One key moment threatened to upset the harmony of the summit, when Macron held unexpected talks on Sunday with Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammed Javad Zarif, who flew into Biarritz for just several hours and then departed.
However, Trump appeared to enjoy having played up tensions on Iran, before revealing that he had approved Macron holding talks with the Islamic republic.
The next day, Trump and Macron jointly announced at a press conference that the US president would be willing to meet Iranian President Hassan Rowhani within weeks, possibly at the UN General Assembly next month.
That would be a historic meeting, which could help de-escalate the alarming situation in the Gulf region, where recent flare-ups have sparked concerns of outright war between Iran and the US.
Trump was also playing up the chances of reaching a trade deal with China and the European Union, and declined to reiterate his past threats to slap tariffs on cars and French wines.
He said there were ongoing talks with France on a digital tax and he was looking for a resolution.
The US president also used the summit and a meeting with Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to announce a trade deal with Japan, though the details remain unclear and may only be revealed next month.
Trump had come into the summit with signs of escalating tensions not only with China, as he announced new tariffs on Beijing, but also strong points of contention with Europe, especially on Iran and climate talks.
By the end of the summit, though, Trump had flipped. He said Chinese officials had proactively called him and he now believed the chances of reaching a deal had drastically improved.
It remains to be seen whether the latest pause in the trade war will be short lived, like previous interludes.

Tuesday, August 27th 2019
Shabtai Gold (dpa)

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