Tensions bubble to the surface at the G7 summit

Credit: Reuters Studio
Published on August 25, 2019 - Duration: 02:32s

Tensions bubble to the surface at the G7 summit

Despite the smiles and bonhomie, a number of issues that divide the Group of Seven world leaders surfaced on Sunday - the first day of talks at the G7 Summit in Biarritz.

David Doyle reports.


Tensions bubble to the surface at the G7 summit

Smiles and bonhomie may be on display at the G7 summit in France but bubbling tensions quickly surfaced on Sunday (August 25).

It was the first day of talks in Biarritz -- set against a backdrop of worries over a global economic downturn and disunity on a range of matters.

One such area: Iran.

European leaders have been trying to quell a confrontation between Washington and Tehran since the U.S. withdrew from the Iran nuclear deal.

Late on Saturday, G7 leaders agreed French President Emmanuel Macron should hold talks and pass on messages to Iran.

But Donald Trump pushed back, saying he hadn't signed off a statement Macron intends to give on the subject.

In a surprise move, Iran's foreign minister arrived in Biarritz on Sunday -- though a senior Iranian official said he had no plans to hold talks with Trump or any member of the U.S. delegation.

Before leaving Washington, Trump stepped up his trade dispute with China, and at a meeting with UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson Trump said his allies "respect" the tariff war.

(SOUNDBITE) (English) JOURNALIST SAYING: "Mr President, are your allies pressuring you to give up the trade war with China?

(SOUNDBITE) (English) U.S. PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP SAYING: "No, not at all." Sat across the table, Johnson -- who is keen to keep the U.S. on side for a trade deal after Brexit -- offered a dissenting view.

(SOUNDBITE) (English) BRITISH PRIME MINISTER, BORIS JOHNSON, SAYING: "Just to register as a faint sheep-like note of our view on the trade war, we are in favor of trade peace on the whole." Johnson also met with EU Council President Donald Tusk -- just a day after they sparred over who would be to blame if the UK leaves the EU without a deal at the end of October.

(SOUNDBITE) (English) BRITISH PRIME MINISTER, BORIS JOHNSON, SAYING: "A demonstration of the closeness of the UK to our European friends, which will persist beyond October 31st, whatever happens." (SOUNDBITE) (English) EUROPEAN COUNCIL PRESIDENT, DONALD TUSK, SAYING: "Yeah, I couldn't agree more." (SOUNDBITE) (English) BRITISH PRIME MINISTER, BORIS JOHNSON, SAYING: "That's right, that's the spirit." A British official said Johnson told Tusk the UK would leave the EU on October 31, whatever the circumstances.

An EU official said the meeting largely restated known positions.

And the tensions are not just confined to Biarritz.

In the neighboring city of Bayonne, protesters marched with 125 official portraits of Macron, stolen from town halls over the past three months.

They were carried upside down in defiance of Macron's policies on issues like climate change and social justice and to emphasize that images put on display may not live up to reality.

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