Sunday 24 June 2018

Photo of Merkel and Trump captures G7 tensions

The picture shows Angela Merkel with her hands planted on a table staring down at Donald Trump, who is seated with his arms folded and eyes glaring.

Angela Merkel speaks with Donald Trump during the G7 leaders’ summit in Quebec (Jesco Denzel/German Federal Government via AP)
Angela Merkel speaks with Donald Trump during the G7 leaders’ summit in Quebec (Jesco Denzel/German Federal Government via AP)

By David McHugh, Associated Press

A picture of US President Donald Trump and German Chancellor Angela Merkel displaying less-than-friendly body language has turned out to be a defining image of the contentious meeting of the G7 leaders of the world’s advanced economies.

The picture, taken on Saturday by German government photographer Jesco Denzel, shows a standing Mrs Merkel with her hands firmly planted on a table staring down at Mr Trump, who is seated with his arms folded and eyes glaring.

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe stands next to Mr Trump, also with folded arms, as French President Emmanuel Macron leans in next to Mrs Merkel.

The photo was tweeted by Merkel spokesman Steffen Seibert.

Shortly afterwards, the White House issued a separate photo showing a sitting Mr Trump speaking as Mrs Merkel, Mr Abe and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau listen.

Another image of the same gathering however suggests a more relaxed interaction, with Mrs Merkel smiling and Mr Trump making eye contact.

The G7 – an informal annual summit of democracies with highly developed economies – took place on Friday and Saturday in the Quebec resort town of Charlevoix in Canada, which holds the rotating leadership this year.

Saturday’s picture was not the first awkward moment between Mr Trump and Mrs Merkel, who makes no secret of her disagreement with the American leader’s approach on trade, his rejection of the deal to limit Iran’s nuclear programme and his decision to take the United States out of the global Paris deal to fight climate change.

Mrs Merkel’s March 2017 visit to the White House was marked by Mr Trump either not hearing or ignoring her offer to shake hands in the Oval Office.

A subsequent visit in April this year warranted only a working lunch for the German leader, several days after fellow EU leader Mr Macron got the full, formal state dinner treatment from Mr Trump.

The Charlevoix G7 summit was marked by sharp disagreements over Mr Trump’s decision to impose higher import taxes on aluminium and steel imports.

The measure hits EU trading partners even though the main target is overcapacity at state-backed Chinese producers, who Europe and the US have long complained have flooded markets with cheap steel.

The G7 summit participants managed to patch over their disagreements and agree to disagree on some issues in a joint final statement.

Yet after leaving the summit, Mr Trump tweeted that he would instruct US officials not to endorse the G7 statement, after objecting to comments from summit host Mr Trudeau.

Press Association

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