President Donald Trump’s visit at the G-7 summit in Canada was tense and truncated. Arriving late and leaving early, he advocated for the readmission of Russia, which was expelled from the group after allegedly annexing Crimea, and refused to reverse tariffs on imported steel and aluminum. NewsHour’s White House Correspondent Yamiche Alcindor joins Hari Sreenivasan from Quebec.
White House correspondent Yamiche Alcindor is in Quebec City covering the G7 Summit as it wraps up. She joins us now. Let's talk first about the tough words, the threats on trade. Where do relations stand inside the G7?
Well even though President Trump rates his relationship with G7 members a "ten," it's very clear that the last few days have been filled with very tense moments. The president of France tweeted that the G6, the other six countries that are not in the G7 with the United States, that they can make a decision without the United States without any problems. President Trump then said, if they want to call it the G6 it doesn't matter to him. So it's really showing that the United States is OK with backing out of this agreement. The other thing that's important is that the President today, this morning, shocked a lot of the G7 members by suggesting that the G7 should be a tariff free zone.
And that is a significant structural change that would have ripple effects on the entire global economy. Let's also talk a little bit about the advocacy that President Trump has had for Russia being re-admitted back into this group.
Well, President Trump said that the G7 would be more meaningful if Russia was allowed back in and it became the G8 again. That's really important because Russia is seen as a country that, really, was doing things that the G7 did not agree with. But President Trump is not backing down. Canada, France and a lot of the other European Union members say that they do not agree with President Trump, and that Russia should not be allowed back in. But the new populist prime minister of Italy said that he agrees with President Trump.
So he came late, left early. What does the Administration point to as their achievements at this summit?
The main achievement, and the main thing that President Trump wanted to get out of this, was to tell people in person that the United States was not going to reverse its controversial tariffs on steel and aluminum. The President met with the president of France and the prime minister of Canada. He said that those countries are taking advantage of the U.S., and that the U.S. is going to change the way that it does trade. And he was able to get that out there. But this was, of course, a very truncated visit. The President was late. He lost out on a couple of different meetings, including a meeting on climate change, and also he was very late to a breakfast about women's and gender equality.
All right. So some of the issues that he also missed late this afternoon: the World Bank, the IMF. How consequential are these conversations and how significant is it if America is not at the table?
Well, it's very significant. Now, the President did have an aide sit in on the meeting on climate change and there are U.S. officials that are going to be talking to other countries about women and gender equality. But what we see here is President Trump saying that he didn't have time to talk to all these different countries about these consequential issues. And there was some reporting that these countries might come to an agreement about climate change without the United States, which is of course a very big deal. But President Trump said that he was here for a very short period of time. He left Washington very late. He had to even reschedule a meeting that he had with the president of France, and now he's gone. He left at 10:30 a.m. and there are other leaders that are sticking around for the whole thing.
This is very different than how we usually see these meetings taking place. Rarely do we see unilateral statements by countries preceding these discussions, and rarely do we see this sort of direct affront to the idea of why the union exists in the first place. Are the other countries, and all the press covering them, are they as surprised by these developments as perhaps the American presses?
Well, most people here are very surprised. While President Trump had of course been talking for a while about the fact that the United States was really treated unfairly when it came to trade, no one really expected President Trump to arrive late. No one expected him to leave early. No one expected him to then start having very openly hostile meetings with the president of France and the prime minister of Canada. And what we saw was the world really looking at the United States and saying, 'hey this is a country that's looking at the G7 a lot differently,' and a lot of American officials that I talked to who are familiar with summits like this say that there's now going to be a leadership vacuum. And that leadership vacuum means that other world players both people inside the agreement, and inside the G7 like Germany, but also countries like Russia could play a bigger role on the world stage.
Alright. PBS Newshour's Yamiche Alcindor joining us from Canada today. Thanks so much.
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