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At G7 Summit, Trump Demands Changes To 'Unfair' Trade Policies

MICHEL MARTIN, HOST:

We're going to start the program at the G-7 summit in Canada, where differences between the U.S. and its allies have been front and center today. President Trump is demanding the other countries change their trade policies. All of the leaders have acknowledged that there are disagreements, but the meeting ended with the entire group issuing a joint communique. It says the group acknowledges free, fair and mutually beneficial trade as the key engine for growth and jobs and adds, quote, "we strive to reduce tariff barriers, nontariff barriers and subsidies" - unquote.

NPR's Ayesha Rascoe is in Quebec for the summit, and she's with us now.

AYESHA RASCOE, BYLINE: Thanks for having me.

MARTIN: Where do things stand right now between the U.S. and the rest of the G-7?

RASCOE: It doesn't seem like the leaders really reached a concrete solution for all of these trade disputes. But the leaders are saying they're committed to continuing the dialogue and continuing to work on this matter. President Trump held a surprise press conference before he left the summit, and he left a bit early. He says the meeting was not contentious and that he gets along well with the other leaders. Here's more of what he had to say.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: I would say that the level of relationship is a 10. We have a great relationship. Angela and Emmanuel and Justin - I would say the relationship is a 10.

RASCOE: President Trump was referring to the leaders of Germany, France and Canada. But divisions between the U.S. and the rest of the G-7 are clear. Trump told reporters that the countries would have to either lower their tariffs against the U.S. or the U.S. would stop trading with them. It's not exactly clear how he would carry that out.

And he also put forward this idea that all the countries should eliminate all trade barriers and even subsidies. That would be an incredibly heavy lift and fundamentally change international trade. So this has been a meeting where the leaders acknowledged that they don't always see eye to eye.

MARTIN: Now, the president has talked about another contentious topic during the summit - Russia. He actually on his way to the meeting had said - and it wasn't clear whether this was offhandedly or not - but he called for Russia to be readmitted to the group. And what's his argument?

RASCOE: Well, he's arguing that bringing back Russia into the group would actually make the group, I guess, more substantial or have more clout. In a press conference at the summit, Trump made clear that he was serious about this. He says that Russia should be at the negotiating table. And he said that Russia was taken out of the group for annexing Crimea. But Trump blamed the Obama administration for that and basically said that shouldn't stop Russia from returning to the group. Now, some of the other countries in the G-7 are opposed to this and say Russia has not taken actions that would make it possible for them to return yet.

MARTIN: Finally, President Trump is heading to Singapore to meet with Kim Jong Un. What did he have to say ahead of that meeting?

RASCOE: President Trump says he's optimistic heading into the summit. He says that Kim has a one-time shot to make a better situation for his country, and he could do that by making a deal with the U.S. Trump also said that he would know in the first minute of the meeting whether it would be successful just based off of his interactions with Kim - the touch, the feel. He would know how things are going to go.

MARTIN: That's NPR's Ayesha Rascoe. She's in Quebec City. Ayesha, thanks so much for speaking with us.

RASCOE: Thank you. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.