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Trump keeps G7 attendance short at tense summit

The Group of Seven convened their Canadian summit in an atmosphere of argument over President Trump's trade demands. Before arriving, Trump had argued that Russia should return to the G-7. At the summit, a suddenly canceled meeting with the French President Emmanuel Macron reflected the wider tensions between the allies. Yamiche Alcindor joins Judy Woodruff from Quebec.

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  • Judy Woodruff:

    There's a chill in the air tonight at the Group of Seven summit in Quebec, Canada but it's not from the weather. The industrial democracies have convened in an atmosphere of argument over President Trump's trade demands.

    White House correspondent Yamiche Alcindor begins our coverage.

  • Yamiche Alcindor:

    The president showed no sign of backing off his tough talk on trade even before leaving for the G7.

  • President Donald Trump:

    We are not going to live with the deals the way they are. European Union treats us very unfairly, Canada, very unfairly.

  • Yamiche Alcindor:

    And amid strained relations with allies, he argued that Russia should return to the G7. Moscow was evicted from the meeting after it annexed Crimea in 2014.

  • President Donald Trump:

    Why are we having a meeting without Russia being in the meeting? They should let Russia come back in, because we should have Russia at the negotiating table.

  • Yamiche Alcindor:

    From there, it was on to Quebec, and a sudden schedule change that reflected the tensions. A planned morning meeting with French President Emanuel Macron was canceled. They met briefly on the sidelines, after trading barbs in the run-up to the summit.

    Yesterday, Macron tweeted, "The American president may not mind being isolated, but neither do we mind signing a six-country agreement, if need be."

    Mr. Trump answered with a claim that — quote — "The E.U. trade surplus with the U.S. is $151 billion."

    In fact, the E.U. trade surplus is $101 billion, when trade and services is included. Today, he fired off a new attack on European Union members and Canada, vowing to end what he calls unfair trade practice against the U.S.

    The president has repeatedly threatened to terminate NAFTA, the North American Free Trade Agreement, unless it's revised. Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau insists the Trump hard line will only hurt the U.S.

    Even so, they appeared cordial at their first encounter today. And they met again late this afternoon.

  • Justin Trudeau:

    Obviously, trade has been a topic of discussion, and will continue to be.

  • President Donald Trump:

    Justin has agreed to cut all tariffs and all trade barriers between Canada and the United States.

    (LAUGHTER)

  • President Donald Trump:

    So, I'm very happy about that.

  • Justin Trudeau:

    Well, I would say NAFTA is in good shape.

    (LAUGHTER)

  • President Donald Trump:

    But we are actually working on it. It could be that NAFTA will be a different form. It could be with Canada, with Mexico, one on one, much simpler agreement, much easier to do.

  • Yamiche Alcindor:

    President Trump plans to leave the summit tomorrow, before it officially ends, to head to Singapore for his meeting with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un — Judy.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    We heard President Trump, Yamiche, say earlier today that he would like to see Russia come back into the G7. What do the other leaders there say about that?

  • Yamiche Alcindor:

    Well, despite President Trump wanting Russia back at the negotiating table, most of the members of the G7 today flatly rejected that idea.

    They say that they do not want to see Russia come back here. Canada released a statement through a spokesperson saying that that country's position has not changed. Several E.U. members, European Union members, also said that they do not want to see Russia back here.

    But Italy's new prime minister, a populist prime minister, said that he agrees with President Trump and says that Russia should be back for everyone's interest. Russian state media is reporting that a Russian spokesperson is saying that Russia is not thinking about coming back to the G7, that they are focused on other forums.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    And, finally, Yamiche, overall, President Trump arrived there late, he's leaving early, this on top of already tense relations. How is all this playing out at this summit and do you expect a joint communique?

  • Yamiche Alcindor:

    Well, President Trump is definitely keeping this meeting short. He's leaving Saturday morning before a meeting on climate change. He sending an aide.

    But a lot of our allies want to speak to President Trump about his stance on climate change. Now, Reuters is reporting that there is going to be a joint communique released by all seven members. That's very important, because the United States will be included in that, they're saying.

    The joint communique will be focused on election meddling. All seven members say will say that they would share information about the Internet and social media to prevent foreign leaders from meddling in elections.

    That's very important, because Russia has been accused of meddling in foreign elections.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    Yamiche Alcindor, covering the summit for us in Quebec, thank you.

  • Yamiche Alcindor:

    Thanks, Judy.

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