Wednesday 18 September 2019

G7 summit to be 'a difficult test of unity' - EU's Tusk

  • World's seven richest nations set to discuss Brexit, trade and climate change
  • Trade wars among the seven nations would further erode trust between them - Tusk
  • 'G7 leaders cannot be silent over Amazon rainforest fires' - Merkel
Donald Tusk speaks during a media conference (Virginia Mayo/AP)
Donald Tusk speaks during a media conference (Virginia Mayo/AP)
Steeled: German Chancellor Anglea Merkel Photo: REUTERS/Ints Kalnins
Brazil's President Jair Bolsonaro looks on during a Soldier's Day ceremony, in Brasilia, Brazil August 23, 2019. REUTERS/Adriano Machado
Brazil's President Jair Bolsonaro looks on during a Soldier's Day ceremony, in Brasilia, Brazil August 23, 2019. REUTERS/Adriano Machado
Demonstrators of environmental organizations take part in a rally in front to the embassy of Brazil in demand to more Amazon protection in Santiago, Chile August 23, 2019. The placard reads: "Bolsonaro: Turn off the fire, save the Amazon" and "Without planet there is no future". REUTERS/Rodrigo Garrido
Demonstrators of environmental organizations take part in a rally in front to the embassy of Brazil in demand to more Amazon protection in Santiago, Chile August 23, 2019. The placard reads: "Bolsonaro: Turn off the fire, save the Amazon". REUTERS/Rodrigo Garrido
Demonstrators of environmental organizations take part in a rally in front of the embassy of Brazil in demand to more Amazon protection in Santiago, Chile August 23, 2019. REUTERS/Rodrigo Garrido
Demonstrators of environmental organizations take part in a rally in front of the embassy of Brazil in demand to more Amazon protection in Santiago, Chile August 23, 2019. The placard reads: "Bolsonaro: Turn off the fire, save the Amazon". REUTERS/Rodrigo Garrido
Protesters embrace during a demonstration demanding something be done about the fires that have been breaking out at an unusual pace in Brazil this year, causing global alarm over deforestation in the Amazon region, in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Friday, Aug. 23, 2019. (AP Photo/Silvia Izquierdo)
People demonstrate demanding something be done about the fires that have been breaking out at an unusual pace in Brazil this year, causing global alarm over deforestation in the Amazon region, in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Friday, Aug. 23, 2019.(AP Photo/Silvia Izquierdo)
Protesters demonstrate demanding something be done about the fires that have been breaking out at an unusual pace in Brazil this year, causing global alarm over deforestation in the Amazon region, in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Friday, Aug. 23, 2019.(AP Photo/Silvia Izquierdo)
Demonstrators block a road outside the Brazilian embassy during a protest organized by the Fridays For Future movement, calling on Brazil's President Jair Bolsonaro to protect the Amazon rainforest, in Montevideo, Uruguay, Friday, Aug. 23, 2019. (AP Photo/Matilde Campodonico)
A lush forest sits next to a field of charred trees destroyed by wildfires near Porto Velho, Brazil, Friday, Aug. 23, 2019.(AP Photo/Victor R. Caivano)
A fire burns a field on a farm in the Nova Santa Helena municipality, in the state of Mato Grosso, Brazil, Friday, Aug. 23, 2019. . (AP Photo/Leo Correa)

Zeke Miller, Darlene Superville and Jill Colvin

The summit of G7 nations opening on Saturday will be "a difficult test of unity and solidarity" after a year during which leaders of the rich nations have found it hard to find common language, the European Council's president said.

Donald Tusk also told a news briefing in Biarritz, France, that trade wars among the seven nations would further erode trust between them.

He said that if U.S. President Donald Trump was using tariffs as a political tool it could be risky for the whole world.

Mr Tusk's news briefing came after German chancellor Angela Merkel has said the G7 leaders "cannot be silent" in the face of fires sweeping parts of Brazil's Amazon, and will call for everything to be done to halt them.

Germany is backing French president Emmanuel Macron's call to discuss the fires at the weekend's G7 summit, which is being held in the French town of Biarritz.

Mrs Merkel said in her weekly video message: "Emmanuel Macron is right - our house is burning, and we cannot be silent."

She said the leaders of the world's top economic powers are "shaken" by the fires and that they will discuss "how we can support and help there, and send a clear call that everything must be done so that the rainforest stops burning".

Amid a series of policy and trade disagreements, which she did not address explicitly, Mrs Merkel said that "talking to each other is always better than about each other - and the G7 is an excellent opportunity for that".

Mrs Merkel also said that impeding a trade deal between the European Union and South American trade bloc Mercosur will not help reduce the destruction of rainforest in Brazil.

On Friday, Mr Macron threatened to block the recently agreed trade deal with Mercosur, which also includes Argentina, Paraguay and Uruguay. Ireland joined in the threat.

Demonstrators of environmental organizations take part in a rally in front to the embassy of Brazil in demand to more Amazon protection in Santiago, Chile August 23, 2019. The placard reads:
Demonstrators of environmental organizations take part in a rally in front to the embassy of Brazil in demand to more Amazon protection in Santiago, Chile August 23, 2019. The placard reads: "Bolsonaro: Turn off the fire, save the Amazon". REUTERS/Rodrigo Garrido

Mrs Merkel has made clear she shares Mr Macron's concern about the fires.

But her government said in response to a query about the deal that its trade section "includes an ambitious sustainability chapter with binding rules on climate protection", in which both sides committed to implementing the Paris climate accord.

Demonstrators of environmental organizations take part in a rally in front of the embassy of Brazil in demand to more Amazon protection in Santiago, Chile August 23, 2019. REUTERS/Rodrigo Garrido
Demonstrators of environmental organizations take part in a rally in front of the embassy of Brazil in demand to more Amazon protection in Santiago, Chile August 23, 2019. REUTERS/Rodrigo Garrido

It added: "The non-conclusion (of the deal) is therefore from our point of view not the appropriate response to what is currently happening in Brazil."

Mrs Merkel spoke as world leaders converge on the French town for the G7 summit.

Demonstrators of environmental organizations take part in a rally in front to the embassy of Brazil in demand to more Amazon protection in Santiago, Chile August 23, 2019. The placard reads:
Demonstrators of environmental organizations take part in a rally in front to the embassy of Brazil in demand to more Amazon protection in Santiago, Chile August 23, 2019. The placard reads: "Bolsonaro: Turn off the fire, save the Amazon" and "Without planet there is no future". REUTERS/Rodrigo Garrido

The event has emptied out the town famed for its beach on the last week of the summer break.

Mr Macron has has downplayed any expectations of a unified front from the leaders of the G7 democracies.

US president Donald Trump arrives later in the day. At last year's meeting, Mr Trump left early and repudiated the joint statement from Air Force One.

At the top of the agenda are climate change - and especially the fires burning in the Amazon - and a global economy teetering on the edge of recession.

Additional reporting: Reuters

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