Chancellor Angela Merkel made a forceful pitch for Europe to play a more assertive role in global affairs as U.S. President Donald Trump dismantles the post-World War II order, setting the stage for a potential tense standoff at the Group of Seven summit this week.
The German leader again questioned the durability of trans-Atlantic relations by referring to eye-raising comments she made over a year ago in which she said that “the times when we could fully rely on others are to some extent over.” Those words, spoken at a beer-tent election rally, were a reaction to Trump hectoring European leaders for not spending enough on defence at a North Atlantic Treaty Organization summit in Brussels. Since then, more fuel has been added to the fire.
“That was my takeaway from the NATO summit, and in the meantime, I continue to feel confirmed by my statement,” Merkel said in Munich on Wednesday, this time to a meeting of the European People’s Party, a grouping of centre-right parties in the European Parliament.
In addition to the disruptive effects of the rift in NATO and Trump’s exit from the Paris global climate treaty, Merkel pointed to the fresh conflict over trade and the U.S. leader’s withdrawal from the Iran nuclear accord last month.
“All of that confirms the assessment that the world is being reorganized,” Merkel told the EPP.
The German chancellor has taken a firmer stance leading up to the two-day G-7 gathering in Canada, which starts Friday. Earlier on Wednesday, Europe’s most experienced government leader vowed to challenge Trump on trade and climate, saying the lack of room for compromise means leaders may fail to agree on a final statement.
Trump’s “America First” doctrine shows that “we have a serious problem with multilateral agreements,” Merkel told German lawmakers, adding that failure to reach common ground could lead to the highly unusual step of host Canada issuing a concluding statement not agreed to by all participants.
Meanwhile, president Donald Trump plans to depart from this weekend’s Group of 7 summit in Canada several hours early, the White House announced Thursday, punctuating an explosion of acrimony between Trump and his foreign counterparts on the eve of the talks.
The White House said Trump would depart mid-morning on Saturday, skipping sessions on climate change and the environment. An aide will take his place, the White House said.
The announcement came as Trump engaged in a bitter back-and-forth with French President Emmanuel Macron and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau over Twitter, both of whom he’ll meet face-to-face on Friday.
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