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President Trump concluded his visit to the Group of Seven summit on Saturday with warnings to U.S. allies, saying if they don’t eliminate barriers to trade, they could lose access to the U.S. economy.
Speaking in a solo press conference from the resort town of La Malbaie in Quebec, the president said that for too long, U.S. trade has suffered from “bad” trade deals agreed to by past U.S. presidents.
“The United States has been taken advantage of for decades and decades,” Trump said. “I don’t blame other leaders for that, I blame our past leaders. There was no reason that this should have happened.”
Trump said he pushed for the elimination of trade barriers, including subsidies and tariffs, at the G-7 meeting.
Trump had already roiled G-7 members ahead of the summit and raised fears of a trade war when he placed tariffs on steel and aluminum from Canada, the European Union and Mexico. All three trading partners have threatened to retaliate with their own levies against U.S. imports.
“If they retaliate, they’re making a mistake,” Trump said.
While talking tough with U.S. allies such as Canada and the E.U., Trump repeated his call for Russia to be allowed back into the elite club, which includes Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, the U.S. and Japan. Russia joined the G-7 in the 1990s, making it the Group of Eight, but was expelled after its annexation of Crimea in 2014.
“They should let Russia come back in, because we should have Russia at the negotiating table,” Trump said. Re-admitting Russia to the group would be an “asset,” according to the president.
He left the summit four hours earlier than originally planned, and will miss key talks on the environment, including working sessions on climate change, clean energy and the health of the oceans. Trump is heading to Singapore, where he is scheduled to meet on Monday with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.
Trump called the summit a “one time shot” for Kim, but expressed optimism at the beginning of talks with the North Korean regime. “I think within the first minute I’ll know,” Trump said. “Just my touch, my feel. That’s what I do.”
The U.S. wants North Korea to give up its nuclear weapons program, a demand North Korea has rejected without concessions from the U.S.
Trump has previously threatened North Korea with military action if it “acts unwisely.” Roughly 28,000 American troops and civilian military personnel are currently stationed in South Korea.
Military solutions are now fully in place,locked and loaded,should North Korea act unwisely. Hopefully Kim Jong Un will find another path!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 11, 2017
“This is unknown territory in the truest sense. But I feel really confident,” Trump said of Monday’s meeting, which is the first between a North Korean leader and sitting U.S. president, “It’s never been done, It’s never been tested. So we are going in with a really positive spirit.”