This week, the annual G-7 summit was held in Charlevoix, Quebec in Canada, and this remarkable photo, taken by Jesco Denzel of the Associated Press, has become a defining example of President Donald Trump’s attitude toward the United States’ closest allies, the G-7. Let's take a look at the story behind the photo.
What’s Happening Here
In the picture, Trump is seated, while the G-7 leaders stand around him — each with palpably tense facial expressions. German Chancellor Angela Merkel, whose office released the photo on Instagram, is leaning over a desk, appearing as though she is lecturing him. French President Emmanuel Macron’s eyebrows are furrowed, and his knuckles are digging into the desk; he looks exasperated. Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, ostensibly one of Trump’s closer allies, has his arms folded and appears incredulous. Trump himself looks like a comically petulant child, and John Bolton, the National Security Advisor, appears to be nervous, staunchly standing by the president.
Trump was especially "strong" towards Trudeau, ranting about agriculture, and Merkel. He reportedly said NAFTA was the second worst deal ever, WTO was the worst, and that US/he paid to defend other countries, they don't pay to defend themselves.— Alberto Nardelli (@AlbertoNardelli) June 9, 2018
How Did We Get Here?
Trouble for Trump began before he arrived in Canada. He held an impromptu press conference prior to boarding Air Force One for Charlevoix, and stated that he believes Russia should be allowed back into the G-7, reported CNN. “Why are we having a meeting without Russia in the meeting?” he asked. “Russia should be in the meeting...It may not be politically correct to say it, but we have a world to run.” At the summit, the New York Times reported that he doubled down on this idea: “It’s been done a long time. I would rather see Russia in the G-8...I would say that the G-8 is a more meaningful group than the G-7, absolutely,” Trump said.
Russia has not released its hold on Crimea and has not been willing to negotiate on the Minsk Protocol agreement, which would ease the Russian occupation of the region; most recently, 14 Russian nationals were indicted by Special Counsel Robert Mueller for interfering with the 2016 U.S. election, including the former business partner (and suspected Russian spy) of Paul Manafort, Trump’s one-time campaign manager.
Allowing Russia back into the G-7 is an unpopular idea among the other countries. “We agree that a return by Russia to the G-7 format cannot happen as long as there isn't any substantial progress in regard to the problems with Ukraine,” said Merkel, CNN reported. Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau also said that inviting Russia back into the G-7 was “not something we are even remotely looking at.”
Although he arrived in Canada on Friday, Trump also arrived late to the G-7’s summit first session on Saturday morning, a breakfast meeting about gender equality. Trump reportedly missed Trudeau’s opening remarks.
What Happened After The Photo
At the conclusion of the G-7 summit, the leaders traditionally send out a joint communication about the group’s resolutions. Trump initially refused to sign the statement, but agreed to sign it prior to his departure. As the summit closed, Trudeau held a televised news conference to discuss the communication, where he was asked about Trump’s new tariffs on Canadian steel and aluminum. “It’s kind of insulting,” said Trudeau, noting that many “Canadians fought side-by-side with American soldiers.” He explained that “with regret,” Canada will impose “equivalent” retaliatory tariffs on the U.S., effective July 1. “Canadians, we're polite, we're reasonable, but we also will not be pushed around,” said Trudeau.
Trump was reportedly infuriated by Trudeau’s comments during the news conference. He has directed U.S. officials “not to endorse” the G-7 joint statement, and personally insulted Trudeau in a series of Twitter posts.
Based on Justin’s false statements at his news conference, and the fact that Canada is charging massive Tariffs to our U.S. farmers, workers and companies, I have instructed our U.S. Reps not to endorse the Communique as we look at Tariffs on automobiles flooding the U.S. Market!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 9, 2018
PM Justin Trudeau of Canada acted so meek and mild during our @G7 meetings only to give a news conference after I left saying that, “US Tariffs were kind of insulting” and he “will not be pushed around.” Very dishonest & weak. Our Tariffs are in response to his of 270% on dairy!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 9, 2018
Trump’s late arrival also highlighted his early departure. Trump left Charlevoix before the G-7 summit had concluded in order to attend the bilateral summit in Singapore with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un. Although crucial in orchestrating the talks, South Korean President Moon Jae-in is not expected attend the meeting with Trump and Kim, which takes place on Tuesday.