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G7 nations struggle to salvage summit as Trump attacks trade

Reuters  |  LA MALBAIE, Quebec 

By David and Jan Strupczewski

LA MALBAIE, (Reuters) - Top U.S. allies scrambled on Friday to keep a nations summit from veering off track as vowed to deal with "unfair trade practices" by and the

Washington's partners in the have been reeling since the last week imposed tariffs on and aluminum imports from Canada, the EU and Mexico, prompting retaliation and raising the specter of a global trade war.

Canada, the host of the two-day summit in La Malbaie, Quebec, and the nation that has borne much of the brunt of Trump's trade fusillades in recent days, is holding out hope that progress can be made on less controversial issues.

Asked whether Canadian Justin Trudeau's team was engaged in frantic damage control, a said it was always clear there would be disagreements at the summit over trade and relations with

Trump set the tone before leaving on Friday.

"We're going to deal with the unfair trade practices. If you look at what Canada, and Mexico, the - all of them - have been doing to us for many, many decades. We have to change it. And they understand it's going to happen," Trump said.

He also said that should be attending the summit, an idea that was unlikely to gain much traction at the gathering, which groups Canada, the United States, Japan, Britain, Italy, and The EU is also attending.

was suspended from what was then called the in 2014 because of its annexation of Crimea from Trump said Russia should be readmitted, but even seemed to reject that suggestion.

"Russia is focused on other formats, apart from the G7," Kremlin said in a statement reported by the government-controlled agency.

Trump's presidency has been clouded by a federal investigation into alleged Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election, and possible collusion by his campaign. Both and Trump have denied the allegations.

A source within the French presidency said Trump's proposal did not seem "coherent," and that it would be discussed in A for Canada's Trudeau said Ottawa's position against allowing Russia back into the had not changed.

New Italian struck a contrarian note, saying Russia should be readmitted.

NERVOUS MARKETS

Trump, who aides said has scant interest in multilateralism, is set to have bilateral meetings with French and Canada's Trudeau at the summit. The said he would leave four hours earlier than originally planned to fly to to meet with North Korean leader

The said there could be meaningful progress on less controversial issues at the summit such as economic growth, the environment and gender equality. "We have no reason to believe there will be problems on those issues," the said on condition of anonymity.

The will miss talks about climate change and clean energy, and will have left by the time the other leaders begin closing conferences likely to be laden with criticism of Washington's policies.

While the G7 chiefs have largely praised Trump for his efforts to stabilize the Korean peninsula, they are unhappy he pulled out of an international agreement designed to limit Iran's nuclear ambitions.

Officials have conceded the mood at the summit will likely be exceptionally tense.

Although Trump says his tariffs are necessary to protect U.S. industry and workers, and the EU have denounced them as illegal. Canada has proposed levies on a range of U.S. goods next month and the EU has pledged its own retaliatory measures.

That has financial markets worried about tit-for-tit escalation that could tarnish an overall rosy global economic outlook.

U.S. stock indexes initially dipped on Friday, partly due to investor nervousness over the G7 summit, but later turned positive.

"When it comes to trade - the positions are very clear. The of the thinks that the U.S. has been treated in an unfair way by and by others, and the others think that this is not the case," President told a press conference in

"We will explain this through facts and figures, that this is not the right view one should have on this topic," Juncker said.

Canada is also frustrated by what it sees as unacceptable U.S. demands in talks to modernize the North American Free Trade Agreement, a deal that Trump has frequently criticized and threatened to terminate. is also a member of NAFTA.

(Additional reporting by and in and Jean-Baptiste Vey, Giselda Vagnoni, William James, Jan Strupczewski, Andrea Hopkins and David in La Malbaie, Quebec; Writing by Paul Simao; Editing by Hugh Lawson, and Susan Thomas)

(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

First Published: Fri, June 08 2018. 22:24 IST
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