June 6, 2019
CAEN, France (Reuters) – U.S. President Donald Trump did not confirm he would attend August’s summit of the G7 group of rich nations in southwestern France city of Biarritz when he met President Emmanuel Macron on Thursday, a French official said.
A G7 foreign ministers meeting held in Britanny earlier this year was overshadowed when U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo chose not to attend, underscoring how tough agreeing common ground between allies has become at the annual big power summit.
Along with the United States, France and Britain, the group includes Japan, Germany, Italy, Canada and the European Union.
Tensions between the United States and its European allies have meant that where they were once largely in accord, they now seek the lowest common denominator at international gatherings.
Trump briefly set aside his testy relationship with Macron on Thursday, heaping praise on U.S. war veterans in a speech to mark the 75th D-Day anniversary and steering clear of issues that might rile Europe.
Macron and Trump have had a difficult relationship, at odds over the American’s unilateralist approach to trade, climate change and a nuclear deal with Iran.
On Thursday, Trump spoke of an “outstanding” relationship, while Macron described their bond as “extremely strong”.
However, when asked whether Trump had committed to attending this year’s G7 summit, a French official debriefing reporters after the meeting said that was still unclear.
“You’d have to ask him (Trump) the question. It’s important for us that he is in Biarritz and we are hopeful he’ll be there,” the official said.
In 2018, Trump threw the efforts of other leaders to show a united front into disarray by leaving early, backing out of a joint communique and criticizing his Canadian host.
(Reporting by Marine Pennetier; writing by John Irish, Editing by William Maclean)