Trump clarifies on trade regrets

'A Test of Unity', Power Moves and Posturing as G7 Summit Gets Underway

Trump on US-China trade war: No pressure from world leaders

US President Donald Trump on Sunday denied signing off on a joint G7 message to Iran over its nuclear programme as announced by his French counterpart Emmanuel Macron.

"This morning in the bilat with the United Kingdom, the president was asked if he had "any second thought on escalating the trade war with China".

As he has repeatedly over the last months, Mr Trump insisted that China will eventually cave to United States demands for reforming its economic model and transforming the trade relationship.

But Trump said he has "no plans right now" to use a national security law he mentioned last week to declare an emergency and force USA companies to leave China.

Zarif's arrival in Biarritz appeared to be a covert initiative by Macron, a senior European official said, and other leaders were not warned ahead of time.

The trade dispute escalated to the status of a "trade war" on July 6, 2018 when U.S. Customs and Border Patrol began collecting a 25% tariff on 818 goods arriving from China.

The new North American trade deal and China's detention of two Canadians have been at the centre of conversations between Trudeau and Trump in recent weeks and were at the fore of the discussions Sunday, according to a report on the meeting sent by Trudeau's office.

"Our farmers love it, the unions love it, the workers love it, manufacturers love it, everybody likes it, I think most Democrats like it, so hopefully it'll be put to a vote fairly soon", he said.

Hours later, the White House backpedaled.

Then hours later, White House press secretary Stephanie Grisham issued a statement saying the news media had "greatly misinterpreted" Trump's response. "President Trump responded in the affirmative - because he regrets not raising the tariffs higher". "And yet, I picked up stories, and I read like it was the opposite", Trump continued. But the later reversal fit a pattern for Trump in recoiling from statements he believes suggest weakness. The aim was to discuss plans to ease the crisis, including reducing some USA sanctions or providing Iran with an economic compensation mechanism.

Trump had been trying to use the summit to rally the other leaders to do more to stimulate their economies, as fears rise of a potential slowdown in the U.S.

Johnson, for his part, praised Trump for America's economic performance - but chided the US leader for his unbending China policy.

"We are searching for ways Europe can in fact implement its commitments so that we can reverse the steps we have taken", he said.

Asked on Sunday if he would declare a national emergency over the issue, the United States president said: "I have no plan right now".

Despite the more nuanced comments on Sunday, Mr Trump doubled down on the rationale for his high-risk strategy with China, saying "they steal and take out, and - intellectual property theft, anywhere from $300 billion to $500 billion a year".

It is the 45th time it's met in one form or another and the tradition is to hold roundtable discussions, led by the host - in this case France's President Emmanuel Macron - and for some sort of declaration or communique to be released at the end.

Trump has disputed any accounts of tension.

"No, I haven't discussed that", he told reporters during a meeting with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.

In a Sunday morning tweet Trump says "the Leaders are getting along very well".

For several months, Macron has taken a lead role in trying to save the 2015 nuclear accord, which has been unraveling since Trump pulled the USA out of the agreement.

A White House official said France's invitation to Mohammad Javad Zarif for talks on the sidelines of the meeting in the Basque beachside town of Biarritz was "a surprise", and there were no immediate plans for US officials to meet him.

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