Leaders of the world’s major industrialized nations pledged on Saturday after a G7 summit in Italy to work together to tackle the globe's largest problems, but the big news was that U.S. President Donald Trump refused to join his counterparts in committing to the 195-nation Paris climate change agreement.
Diplomats worked through the night trying to bridge the gap between the new U.S. administration and its allies Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy and Japan on a number of issues, including trade, the environment and refugee crisis.
The final communique released on Saturday was just six pages long, against 32 pages last year, with diplomats saying the leaders wanted a simpler document to help them reach a wider audience.
“We acknowledge that free, fair and mutually beneficial trade and investment, while creating reciprocal benefits, are key engines for growth and job creation. Therefore, we reiterate our commitment to keep our markets open and to fight protectionism, while standing firm against all unfair trade practices,” G7 leaders said in the communique.
I will make my final decision on the Paris Accord next week!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 27, 2017
U.S. President Donald Trump, who was elected in November, ran a campaign in which he rejected free trade and multilateralism. He called for an “America first” agenda and had endorsed protectionist measures.
A day before the summit, Trump criticized the German trade surplus as “very bad” in a private meeting with EU officials in Brussels. Trump also complained about the large number of German cars being sold in the United States, officials said.
Despite the progress made on trade, G7 leaders admitted that they had failed to bridge differences over climate change.
"The United States of America is in the process of reviewing its policies on climate change and on the Paris Agreement and thus is not in a position to join the consensus on these topics," the communique read.
“Understanding this process, the Heads of State and of Government of Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, and the United Kingdom and the Presidents of The European Council and of the European Commission reaffirm their strong commitment to swiftly implement the Paris Agreement,” it continued.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel said debate between leaders over climate had been "very unsatisfying" as the United States had been totally isolated.
"The entire discussion about climate was very difficult, if not to say very dissatisfying," Merkel told reporters. "There are no indications whether the United States will stay in the Paris Agreement or not."
Trump had called global warming a “hoax” during his election campaign and is threatening to pull the United States out of the 2015 Paris climate change deal.
"I will make my final decision on the Paris Accord next week!" Trump said in a Twitter post on Saturday.
Italy chose to host the summit in Sicily to draw attention to Europe's migration crisis and the problems of neighboring Africa, which is 225 km from from the island at its closest point across the Mediterranean.
In the communique, G7 leaders said they recognized the need to help and support refugees, but also reaffirm the sovereign rights of states to control their own borders.
“We will safeguard the value of the positive aspects of a safe, orderly and regular migration, since properly managed flows can bring economic and social benefits to countries of both origin and destination as well as to migrants and refugees themselves,” the communique read.
G7 leaders agreed Africa’s security, stability and sustainable development are high priorities for them. They pledged to strengthen cooperation and dialogue with African countries and take actions to support food security, nutrition and sustainable agriculture in Sub-Saharan Africa.
The communique also included language on foreign policy issues, such as Syria, Libya, North Korea and Ukraine, global economy, economic inequalities, and health.
G7 leaders will meet again in 2018 in Canada.