Picture worth a thousand words: Trump, Merkel 'standoff' captures G-7 tensions

Clay Curtis
June 12, 2018

It shows a standing Mrs Merkel, hands firmly planted on a table, staring down at USA president Donald Trump, who is seated with his arms folded.

"Day two of the G7 summit in Canada: spontaneous meeting between two working sessions." .

According to Merkel, the European Union is, like Canada, preparing counter-measures against Trump's steel and aluminium taxes, in line with regulations set by the World Trade Organisation's rules, of which the United States is a founding member.

Donald Trump appears relaxed and leaders even look like they're laughing at a joke from the president.

Elisabeth Wehling, a US-based political linguistics researcher, tweeted that the body language clearly pointed to Trump dominating the scene.

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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. Across a narrow table, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Emmanuel Macron are standing, holding copies of a draft text, arguing for their position. The EU has already said it will announce countermeasures against Trump's metals tariffs on July 1. As per a Deutsche Welle report, Merkel, in her first interview after the summit, called Trump's statement as "a little depressing" and termed the G7 communiqué as an "arduously negotiated" one.

"For today, I think it's much more important to convince our American partners to strengthen our format as guarantor of world order, than to look for something new, more challenging, more hard", EU President Donald Tusk said Friday. 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.

The US leader has blasted Europeans, Germany above all, for failing to spend enough on their own defence, claiming they are taking advantage of US military power. Larry Kudlow, Trump's chief economic adviser, accused Trudeau of undermining USA interests at the summit, calling Trudeau's actions "a betrayal".

Germany, Europe's top economy, finds itself in the sights of the U.S. president due to its large trade surplus and defense spending criticized as too low.

The European leader-famed for negotiating compromise without political histrionics-gave an uncharacteristically candid and combative assessment of relations with Trump as she spoke to German channel ARD, after last week's G-7 summit.

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