20:29 GMT30 October 2020
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    The G7 summit in the Canadian province of Quebec ended on Saturday with the release of the final communique, but US President Donald Trump, who left the meeting ahead of schedule, had already put its results under doubt.

    The G7 countries faced the lack of unity on the most important economic and political international problem. It almost never happened before. The summit was even dubbed "G6+Trump," referring to a separate position of the United States on a number of key issues.

    G7 or G6+1?

    Thus, the United States unilaterally withdrew from the Paris climate agreement, as well as from the Iranian nuclear deal, and imposed duties on steel and aluminum imports, including from Canada and its European partners. A real risk that the leaders will not be able to agree on the final communique of the summit emerged for the first time ever.

    French President Emmanuel Macron and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau warned Trump that they would not sign a final communique unless US president makes some concessions on a number of issues.

    It seemed that fears had been unjustified: the final document of the meeting was approved by all members of the group. At least on paper everything went smooth. "We, the Leaders of the G7" is how the communique begins.

    However, Trump, who departed from the summit to Singapore for a Tuesday meeting with the North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, said on Twitter that he "instructed… U.S. Reps not to endorse the Communique"

    The US president was offended by Trudeau's "false statements at his news conference." The White House did not explain its leader's statements yet. The Canadian Prime Minister's office, however, noted that Trudeau said nothing he has not said before either in public, or in private conversations with Trump.

    Final Communique

    According to the final communique of the summit, the parties agreed on a "free, fair and mutually beneficial trade" and declared the importance of combating protectionism.

    The G7 leaders called on Iran to refrain from launching missiles and other "destabilizing" actions. They also accused the Syrian authorities of using chemical weapons along with the Islamic State terrorist group (IS, banned in Russia).

    The heads of seven states also agreed on future relations with Moscow.

    "We urge Russia to cease its destabilizing behaviour to undermine democratic systems and its support of the Syrian regime," the document says.

    Relations between Russia and the West deteriorated after Crimea’s reunification with Russia in 2014 and amid the crisis in eastern Ukraine. Western countries accused Moscow of interfering in the internal affairs of Ukraine, imposing several rounds of sanctions. Moscow repeatedly refuted accusations and took retaliatory measures.

    At the same time, Russia has repeatedly stated that it was neither a party to an intra-Ukrainian conflict nor a subject of Minsk agreements on the Donbass settlement.

    French President Emmanuel Macron waves to someone in the crowd as he and U.S. President Donald Trump conclude their joint news conference in the East Room of the White House in Washington, U.S., April 24, 2018
    © REUTERS / Jonathan Ernst
    As a result of the G7 summit, the leaders declared their readiness "to take further restrictive measures in order to increase costs on Russia."

    They also supported the United Kingdom's accusations against Moscow of nerve agent attack in the city of Salisbury.

    "We share and agree with the United Kingdom’s assessment that it is highly likely that the Russian Federation was responsible for the attack, and that there is no plausible alternative explanation," the document says.

    In March, the United Kingdom accused Russia of being involved in the attack on former Russian spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia with what UK experts claimed was the A234 nerve agent in the UK city of Salisbury. Russian authorities have refuted the allegations as groundless.

    Nevertheless, the G7 leaders agreed to continue to cooperate with Russia in addressing regional crises and global challenges, "where it is in our interests."

    Next Stop — Singapore

    Trump was late for the summit, but still visited the G7 session on gender equality. The US president though missed the discussion on environmental protection measures, since he was preparing for a long flight to Singapore, where he is scheduled to meet with the North Korean leader Kim Jong Un on Tuesday.

    According to Canadian Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland, Trump received general support in the matter of negotiations with the North Korean leader. However, perhaps this is not the only reason why Trump ignored the environmental session. The president is known for his skeptical attitude to the problem of global climate change, and a year ago the United States unilaterally withdrew from the Paris climate agreement, which was signed by almost all world's countries.

    In any case, now the attention of the world community is redirected to Singapore. Trump said that he would need only a minute to determine the seriousness of Kim's intentions.

    "I think I'll know pretty quickly whether or not, in my opinion, something positive will happen. And if I think it won't happen, I'm not going to waste my time. I don't want to waste his time," the US president stressed.

    With or Without Russia

    Before his trip to Canada, Trump surprised everyone again, saying he would recommend the G7 states to bring Russia back into the group.

    "I would recommend, and it’s up to them, but Russia should be in the meeting," Trump said.

    The G8, a group of eight highly industrialized nations — Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the United Kingdom, the United States and Russia — was reformatted into the G7 in 2014, when the seven non-Russian states boycotted the summit in Sochi and suspended Russia's participation in future meetings, citing disagreements over the Ukrainian crisis.

    The idea to call Russia back in view of its "central role in the most delicate geopolitical affairs" was openly supported by the new Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte. Perhaps, there were more supporters in the G8 support group: according to Trump himself, "some people" like this idea.

    Nevertheless, no one else openly admitted this: the other members of the group reacted cautiously to Trump's proposal in public statements.

    According to UK Prime Minister Theresa May, Moscow should "change ways" before its reunification with the G7. Macron said more specifically that the implementation of the Minsk agreements was a condition for Russia's return to the "club."

    Russia itself is not very keen to return back. Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said that Moscow would like to focus on its work in the G20 format. Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov also said that the G20 is more "perspective format," while his deputy Sergei Ryabkov noted that the G7 was losing its importance, especially given promising alternatives, such as the G20 and BRICS.

    French President Emmanuel Macron said the next G7 summit would be held in the French city of Biarritz in 2019. The exact dates are yet to be determined, but this will happen "towards the end of summer," he added.


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