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Polite disagreements
August 26, 2019

The leaders of the Group of Seven nations were all smiles during Sunday's photo shoot on the beach in Biarritz, France, "eager to present a show of bonhomie after so many previous meetings ended in discord," Peter Baker reports at The New York Times. "But behind the scenes at the annual gathering of some of the world's leading powers, President Trump still found himself at odds with his counterparts."

This year, on issues from trade to Iran, Russia to climate change, Baker adds, "ever so gingerly, as if determined not to rouse the American's well-known temper, the other Group of Seven leaders sought to nudge him toward their views on the pressing issues of the day, or at least register their differences — while making sure to wrap them in a French crepe of flattery, as they know he prefers."

After Trump said his fellow world leaders "respect the trade war" he is escalating with China and wouldn't tell him otherwise, for example, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson first congratulated Trump "on everything that the American economy is achieving," then appended "the faint, sheeplike note" that Britain is "in favor of trade peace on the whole, and dialing it down if we can," adding, "We don't like tariffs, on the whole."

"Johnson wasn't even the only one to gently contradict Trump," Aaron Blake writes at The Washington Post. For a president used to "throwing his weight around — even if to no other end than making his counterparts squirm and cater to him," Trump "found himself on his heels and fumbling throughout much of the first day of the Group of Seven summit."

At the same time, "Trump seemed even more intent on countering press accounts that he is increasingly isolated on the world stage and that his relations with historic U.S. allies are deeply strained," Politico reports. And for the most part, G-7 leaders "have managed to keep their disagreement behind closed doors and out of the views of television cameras," USA Today says. "Yet despite Trump's claim that all is well, the summit is expected to end Monday without proffering a formal agreement from the G-7 leaders — the first time that has happened in the group's 44-year history." Peter Weber

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