2019 Aug 22, 11:00pm
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Like an annual holiday gathering where the main goal is to get through the day without a family explosion, one of France’s main objectives as host of this weekend’s Group of Seven summit is to minimize the chances that President Trump will blow it up.Subjects on which to tread lightly include some of the biggest problems the world’s major economies are facing – including trade, the system of international rules that has ordered the democratic world for decades and climate change, according to U.S. and other G-7 officials.Already, Trump has shaken up the schedule, calling at the last minute for a special meeting Sunday morning to discuss the global economy. Senior administration officials said he will contrast U.S. growth with Europe’s economic doldrums and press his pro-jobs and “fair” trade messages.Senior administration officials told reporters in a briefing call Thursday that Trump planned to “frankly” discuss sticking points among G-7 nations including trade, a digital services tax and NATO spending obligations.It is unclear how receptive the others will be to whatever thoughts Trump might offer as to how they should shift their own economic approaches. Many world leaders blame Trump’s trade war with China and his threats against Europe and Japan for a major contraction in investment and spending, and are frustrated with what they see as attempts to use weaknesses elsewhere to demand changes he thinks will benefit U.S. companies.Trump’s refusal to agree to a joint view of the climate threat and an agenda to confront it roiled the first two G-7 meetings he attended, in Italy in 2017 and in Canada last year.France hopes to largely sidestep that issue, relegating substantive discussion on the environment to meetings on Monday that will include invited non-G-7 leaders from Africa and elsewhere.Unless there is unexpected harmony among the G-7 leaders, there will be no final communique. “We’re not going to focus on a communique if it’s not going to work,” said one European official.Instead, France is tentatively planning to issue statements by leaders on separate issues and concentrate on seeking consensus on front-burner crises such as Hong Kong, Libya, Syria and terrorism. There will be an effort, with little hope of success, to find a middle ground between Trump’s “maximum pressure” sanctions on Iran, and Europe’s desire to preserve the Iran nuclear deal.