U.S. officials charged that Emmanuel Macron is splicing this weekend’s G-7 meeting into niche issues designed to isolate and embarrass President Donald Trump, in what they say is a bid by the French president to boost his support at home.
Trump arrived in Biarritz, France, on Saturday and swiftly met with Macron over an impromptu lunch, with Trump saying, 'Everybody’s getting along.' But behind the scenes, U.S. officials speaking on condition of anonymity say ties have been strained in the run-up to the summit.
Macron has built the agenda around a series of issues, such as climate change and inequality, that U.S. officials say strays from the G-7’s founding nature as an economic bloc and are instead designed to play to Macron’s base.
These officials said France has ignored U.S. input on those issues and then blamed the U.S. for blocking consensus. They say the French have been difficult to deal with in encounters ahead of Trump’s arrival and that the original summit schedule said little or nothing about trade and the global economy.
One French official in Macron’s office pushed back on the U.S. criticism, saying the very first session is on the trade, economy and security -- exactly what Trump’s team says it wants to discuss -- and has been planned that way for weeks. France, too, believes these issues are the top priority of the global summit.
As for whether a discussion of climate might embarrass Trump - who has pulled out of the Paris climate accord -- this official said the summit must confront the issue head on because it’s too great an issue to be ignored in this setting.
The U.S. officials are concerned that the G-7, which the U.S. will host next year, is losing relevance and increasingly preoccupied by what the U.S. considers niche issues. Washington will try to steer talks over the summit to economic and security issues when it hosts the event, the officials said.
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