LA MALBAIE, QUE. (NEWS 1130) – US President Donald Trump has left following his brief trip to Canada saying his relationship with the G7 countries is a 10 out of 10, and reports of rifts between the powerful countries are simply “fake news.”
In a news conference at the G7 summit in La Malbaie before leaving for Singapore to meet with the North Korean leader, Trump is reiterating his contentious case that Russia should be re-invited back into the G7 because a G8 would be more meaningful.
On Canada, he is repeating his criticism of Canadian dairy but says he wants to make a deal on NAFTA, with two different types of sunset clauses — a stumbling block for Canada in the past.
“The United States has been taken advantage of for decades and decades and we can’t do that anymore. We had extremely productive discussions on the need to have fair and reciprocal, meaning the same.”
And he says his steel and aluminum tariffs are based on legitimate national security concerns, rebuffing the concerns of allies.
The other G7 leaders will meet without him for the rest of the day, discussing climate change and international development.
Tough talk on tariffs
Trump is issuing a stern warning to foreign countries not to retaliate against US tariffs on the imports of steel and aluminum. The president says at the Group of Seven summit: “If they retaliate, they’re making a mistake.”
He says he spoke with world leaders about his trade policies and called for the elimination of tariffs, trade barriers or subsidies. “That’s the way it should be.”
His comments follow his administration slapping Canada with hefty fines, as Ottawa looks to implement its own levies on American products starting Jul. 1.
The president says the US is “pretty close” to an agreement on the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) and discussing two types of sunset provisions in which any of the countries could leave the deal.
Disagreement over the sunset clause was the deal breaker that scuttled a possible meeting between Trump and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau in Washington late last month in an attempt to bring the NAFTA talks to a conclusion.
Vice President Mike Pence told Trudeau he would have to agree to that before Trump would agree to meet him.
Trudeau refused, and the meeting was off the table, but the lead ministers from both countries talked trade on the sidelines of the G7 leaders’ talks on Friday.
Trump says they will either have a better agreement on NAFTA or two deals involving separate trade deals with both Canada and Mexico.
Push for Russia to join G7
Trump stressed re-admitting Russia to a club of industrialized nations would be good for all countries.
He says Russia’s return as a member of the Group of Seven would be “an asset.”
Led by the US, the group kicked out Russia in 2014 over its annexation of Crimea and its support for pro-Russia separatists in Ukraine. Trump called for Russia’s reinstatement to the group before he arrived at the annual summit taking place in Quebec.
Trump repeated the call on Saturday, saying “we’re looking for peace in the world.” He says “we’re not looking to play games.”
Trump says he has not spoken with Russian President Vladimir Putin in a while.