Washington (AFP) – The US blamed Canada on Sunday for the disastrous ending to the G7 summit, saying Prime Minister Justin Trudeau “stabbed us in the back,” while American allies held Washington responsible.
Just minutes after a joint communique, approved by the leaders of the Group of Seven allies, was published in Canada’s summit host city Quebec, US President Donald Trump launched a Twitter broadside, taking exception to comments made by Trudeau at a news conference.
“He really kinda stabbed us in the back,” top US economic advisor Larry Kudlow said of Trudeau on CNN’s “State of the Union.”
“He did a great disservice to the whole G7.”
“We went through it. We agreed. We compromised on the communique. We joined the communique in good faith,” Kudlow said.
US trade advisor Peter Navarro, speaking on “Fox News Sunday,” reinforced that message.
“There’s a special place in hell for any foreign leader that engages in bad-faith diplomacy with President Donald J. Trump and then tries to stab him in the back on the way out the door,” he said.
“That’s what bad-faith Justin Trudeau did with that stunt press conference. That’s what weak, dishonest Justin Trudeau did.”
Kudlow sought to tie Trump’s reaction to the upcoming summit with Kim Jong Un, saying the North Korean leader “must not see American weakness.”
Trump — who has a history of hair-trigger responses to slights — landed in Singapore on Sunday for the Tuesday summit meeting with Kim.
Before his departure from Canada the previous day, he tweeted: “Based on Justin’s false statements at his news conference, and the fact that Canada is charging massive Tariffs to our US farmers, workers and companies, I have instructed our US Reps not to endorse the Communique as we look at Tariffs on automobiles flooding the US Market!”
– ‘Insulting’ –
“PM Justin Trudeau of Canada acted so meek and mild during our @G7 meetings only to give a news conference after I left saying that … he ‘will not be pushed around.’ Very dishonest & weak,” Trump said in his tweet.
Trudeau had told reporters that Trump’s decision to invoke national security to justify US tariffs on steel and aluminum imports was “kind of insulting” to Canadian veterans who had stood by their US allies in conflicts dating back to World War I.
“Canadians are polite and reasonable but we will also not be pushed around,” he said.
Trudeau said he had told Trump “it would be with regret but it would be with absolute clarity and firmness that we move forward with retaliatory measures on July 1, applying equivalent tariffs to the ones that the Americans have unjustly applied to us.”
After Trump’s angry tweets, Trudeau’s office issued a brief response: “We are focused on everything we accomplished here at the G7 summit. The Prime Minister said nothing he hasn’t said before — both in public, and in private conversations with the president.”
The outburst against Trudeau, and by association the other G7 members, is only the latest incident in which Trump has clashed with America’s closest allies, even as he has had warm words for autocrats like Kim and Russia’s Vladimir Putin.
– ‘Throwaway remarks’ –
French President Emmanuel Macron’s office reacted Sunday by saying that “international cooperation cannot be dictated by fits of anger and throwaway remarks.”
Reneging on the commitments agreed in the communique showed “incoherence and inconsistency,” it said in a statement.
And German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas tweeted Sunday that Trump had partly “destroyed” Washington’s trusting relationship with Europe by pulling out of the joint communique.
When Trump left Quebec, it was thought that a compromise had been reached, despite the tension and the determination of European leaders Macron and Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany to push back against the US president’s protectionist policies.
Officials from European delegations quickly leaked copies of the joint statement, and it was published online moments before Trump tweeted.
On board Air Force One, an AFP reporter was told that Trump had approved the agreement, only to be told later of the tweets. A senior US administration official said that Trump had been angered by Trudeau’s comments.
– ‘The gig is up’ –
The joint communique that was thrashed out over two days of negotiations vowed that members would reform multilateral oversight through the World Trade Organization (WTO) and seek to cut tariffs.
“We commit to modernize the WTO to make it more fair as soon as possible. We strive to reduce tariff barriers, non-tariff barriers and subsidies,” it said, reflecting the typical language of decades of G7 statements.
But Trump had already said he would not hesitate to shut countries out of the US market if they retaliate against his tariffs.
“The European Union is brutal to the United States… They know it,” he insisted in his departing news conference. “When I’m telling them, they’re smiling at me. You know, it’s like the gig is up.”
European officials said Trump had tried to water down the language in the draft communique on the WTO and rules-based trade. In the end, that language stayed in and it was only on climate change that no consensus was reached.