US, WASHINGTON (ORDO NEWS) — The US President wants to hold this landmark event, but the German Chancellor “cannot agree” to the invitation due to the ongoing pandemic.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel rejected Donald Trump’s invitation to attend the G-7 summit, which the American president seeks to turn into a symbol of a return to normal after the coronavirus crisis.
“The Federal Chancellor thanks President Trump for inviting me to the G-7 summit to be held in Washington at the end of June. Today, given the general situation with the pandemic, it cannot agree to its personal participation and trip to Washington, ”said the representative of the German government Steffen Seibert on Friday, May 29.
“Of course, she will follow the development of the pandemic.”
Merkel’s refusal to accept Trump’s invitation was another episode in a series of examples of the complex relationship between the two leaders. Trump has repeatedly criticized Germany and Merkel in particular for a variety of reasons, starting with Germany’s trade surplus and ending with its deductions to the NATO budget. Merkel publicly expressed her disagreement with the Trump administration’s unilateral approach to a number of foreign policy issues, from climate change to the Iranian nuclear deal.
In a telephone conversation this week between Trump and Merkel, sharp disagreements arose over a range of issues, including NATO, Nord Stream 2, connecting Russia and Germany, as well as relations with China. This was reported by one senior American official who refused to give his name. The representative of the German government, Seibert, did not say whether their conversation was really tense.
The White House did not comment on the situation at the time of publication of this article.
Merkel’s refusal to personally attend the G7 summit could undermine Trump’s attempts to present this summit as a landmark event that will draw a line under the period of lockdowns and travel bans introduced to combat the coronavirus pandemic.
Trump canceled the holding of this summit in March due to the crisis and said that instead he will organize a video conference. But in his tweet on May 20, he wrote that he might postpone the summit, adding: “This will be a great signal for everyone – normalization!”
This week, the White House announced that this summit is scheduled to be held in late June in Washington, and not at Camp David’s residence, where Trump moved the event after a surge of discontent over his desire to host it at his personal resorts in Miami.
“The president believes the best example of a return to normal is the G-7 summit here,” White House spokeswoman Kayleigh McEnany said on Tuesday May 26th.
“We will protect those world leaders who come here, just as we protect those who work in the White House,” McEnany added. – We want the summit to take place. We believe that it will take place. So far, foreign leaders support this idea.”
But Merkel, who was educated as a research scientist, said that, from her point of view, it would be too early in June to conduct large-scale events, given that the virus continues to spread, and experts urge to remain vigilant and maintain social distance, despite the gradual the resumption of the economies.
Officials aware of the discussions reported that Trump was furious about Merkel’s reluctance to attend the summit and that on Thursday, May 28, in a fit of irritation, he called French President Emanuel Macron.
Commenting on the telephone conversation between Trump and Macron, representatives of the White House said: “President Trump and President Macron discussed successes in the fight against coronavirus and progress in resuming the work of world economies. Leaders agreed on the importance of holding a G-7 summit in the near future. President Trump and President Macron also discussed critical issues of world politics and bilateral relations.”
Sources familiar with the content of the discussions said that Merkel also opposed holding a summit of EU leaders in Brussels on June 19 and said face-to-face negotiations should resume no earlier than July.
The EU countries urgently need to agree on a new seven-year budget, which should come into force on January 1 and which already includes a huge package of assistance needed to overcome the economic consequences of the pandemic. According to most leaders, such an agreement can only be reached if all the leaders can be gathered in one room.
Although officials argue that Merkel’s reluctance to go to the G-7 summit is primarily due to the specifics of the epidemiological situation, they also believe that G-7 leaders are alarmed that Trump can use their visit to take the successful joint photos he needs on the eve of the presidential elections, and to announce the return of the world economy to a normal state – of course, thanks to his efforts.
According to officials, so far they have not observed almost any signs of traditional preparation, which always precedes the G-7 summits and which includes a detailed discussion of the program and intensive discussions regarding the wording in the formal final documents. These negotiations are expected to be particularly tense given the disagreements between Trump and other G7 leaders on a range of issues, including trade and climate change.
According to one official, inadequate training reinforces the anxiety of European leaders about the potential negative political consequences of a trip to the United States – especially given that so far they have no opportunity to meet in person in Brussels to discuss their affairs.
Merkel, who turns 66 in July, ranks second on the list of the oldest leaders of the Big Seven after Trump, who will soon turn 74. Together with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, they are at risk for a coronavirus pandemic.
55-year-old British Prime Minister Boris Johnson is the only one of the leaders of the G7 countries who has had co-19-he even got into the intensive care unit.
Commenting on a telephone conversation between Trump and Johnson on Friday, May 29, Downing Street representatives 10 said: “As for the upcoming G7 Summit, the Prime Minister and President discussed the importance of a personal meeting of leaders, if possible.”
Macron said that he would like to go to this summit. On June 2, France will ease most of the quarantine restrictions, and trips within the EU will resume on June 15. However, the ban on aimless trips to EU countries of citizens of countries that are not members of it will continue to apply, and a decision to cancel or extend it is expected no earlier than mid-June.
Abe also announced his readiness to go to the summit, but the Japanese media reported that, according to the current rules, after returning to Tokyo he would have to spend 14 days in quarantine. Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte also expressed his willingness to go to Washington, as did Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. European Council President Charles Michel said that he is also ready to go if his health condition allows.
However, in a private conversation, an official familiar with the situation said that European leaders would support Merkel and would not go to the Trump summit if Merkel considered this a bad idea.
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