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Trump Tries To Project Unity At G-7 Amid Global Turmoil And Mixed Messages


President Trump is holding a joint press conference with French President Emmanuel Macron at the end of the G-7 summit in Biarritz, France, on Monday. The remarks follow a day of seemingly contradictory comments from Trump about the ongoing trade war with China and an unexpected appearance by Iran’s foreign minister.

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On Friday, Trump announced he would increase tariffs against China and threatened to force U.S. businesses out of the country. On Sunday, though, Trump was asked if he was having second thoughts about the tariffs, and he responded, “Yeah, sure, why not? Might as well. Might as well. I have second thoughts about everything.”

Hours later, White House officials said the media misrepresented Trump’s comments and that what he meant was that he had second thoughts about not imposing even more punitive tariffs on goods.

By Monday, the U.S. and China were apparently negotiating, after calls between the countries.

“We’ll see what happens, but I think we’re going to make a deal,” Trump told reporters.

In another twist, Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif arrived on Sunday to meet with France’s delegation. Macron, who is hosting the G-7, has been attempting to ease tensions following the U.S. withdrawal from the Iran nuclear agreement in 2018.

Asked about Zarif’s appearance on Sunday, Trump gave a rare “no comment.”

But on Monday, Trump again faulted the media for mischaracterizing what had happened, insisting that he was not surprised and saying that he did not feel that Macron had been disrespectful by inviting Zarif.

“He spoke to me. He asked me,” Trump said of Macron. “I said if you want to do that, that’s OK.”

Also over the weekend, Trump announced a preliminary trade deal with Japan. “Will be great for our Farmers, Ranchers and more. Really big Corn purchase!” Trump tweeted. U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer said the agreement outline includes agriculture, industrial tariffs and digital trade.

The stated focus of the summit was inequality, but Macron said ahead of time there would be no official communique after the talks.

After the 2018 summit, Trump withdrew U.S. endorsement of that year’s joint communique, blasting comments by Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

Copyright 2019 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

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