WASHINGTON — President Trump said he and German Chancellor Angela Merkel were waiting for a final draft of a joint statement by Group of Seven leaders when an iconic photograph was taken over the weekend showing the two leaders in what appeared to be a confrontation.
“We finished the meeting, really, everybody was happy, and I agreed to sign something,” Trump told reporters Tuesday at a news conference following his summit with Kim Jong Un in Singapore. “I asked for changes. I demanded changes. And in fact, those changes were made. That picture was, we were waiting for the document.”
“Actually, we were just talking — the whole group — about something unrelated to everything, very friendly,” Trump said.
The picture has since gone viral on the internet, and Trump raised it himself at the news conference after he was asked about his relationship with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. Trump called him “very dishonest and weak” in a tweet after Trudeau repeated criticisms of US tariffs on imported steel and aluminum and Trump’s trade policies in a news conference following the Group of Seven meeting in Quebec.
“Canada does have a very big advantage over us. We have a very big trade deficit with Canada. They don’t take our farm products,” Trump said Tuesday.
The US had a trade surplus with Canada of about $7.7 billion in 2016, according to the Bureau of Economic Analysis, although Statistics Canada data show the US had a trade deficit of about $14.6 billion.
Trump revoked his administration’s support for the G-7 communique after Trudeau’s news conference.
“He learned,” Trump said. “That’s going to cost a lot of money for the people of Canada.”
Other G-7 countries lobbied unsuccessfully at the summit for the US to reverse its tariffs on imported steel and aluminum imports. Trump turned the tables by challenging world leaders to eliminate all trade barriers, tariffs and subsidies, and he threatened to stop trading with them entirely.