The annual Group of 7 (G7) summit of world leaders was just kicking off on Friday afternoon, but for the U.S. president, the conference will be cut short. President Donald Trump is reportedly skipping the G7 climate meetings, the White House announced, per CNN. The announcement came Thursday amid a contentious series of exchanges on trade with his foreign counterparts on Twitter.
The summit — this year held in Canada — begins June 8 and continues through the weekend. This year's program includes working sessions on oceans, climate change, and clean energy.
The G7 summits began in the 1970s as an informal meeting of the world's most advanced economies to discuss issues facing them. The U.S. has always been a central fixture in the event, making the president's decision to forego the meetings a notable one.
Trump reportedly pulled out of the climate meeting following a day of salty Twitter exchanges with French President Emmanuel Macron and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. "The American President may not mind being isolated, but neither do we mind signing a 6 country agreement if need be," tweeted Macron on June 7, referring to recent international policy moves by Trump. "Because these 6 countries represent values, they represent an economic market which has the weight of history behind it and which is now a true international force."
The president tweeted, "Prime Minister Trudeau is being so indignant, bringing up the relationship that the U.S. and Canada had over the many years and all sorts of other things... but he doesn't bring up the fact that they charge us up to 300% on dairy — hurting our Farmers, killing our Agriculture!"
That Trump decided to leave his international counterparts high and dry on the meeting is no surprise. Just over a year ago, the president pulled out of the international Paris climate accord, setting off a wave of criticism and straining diplomatic leverage. Trump also formally left the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), also called the Iran nuclear deal, in May.
Washington Post economic policy reporter Damian Paletta summed up Trump's drama with world leaders in advance of the summit, showing that it was already making out to be a tense affair.
According to CNN, numerous sources anticipated the mood at the event would be "unpleasant." But photos of the president and Trudeau greeting each other Friday showed that the two leaders were willing to keep things amicable, if only for the cameras.
Trump's decision to bail on the climate meeting is hardly the only jaw-dropping thing the U.S. president has said in advance of the annual summit. Trump also offered support to Russia, saying that the country should've been represented at the international summit. Before jetting off to Canada for the event, Trump told reporters at the White House Friday, "Russia should be in this meeting. [...] They should let Russia come back in, because we should have Russia at the negotiating table."
At the same White House gathering Friday, Trump also reasserted that he has the power to pardon himself, repeating what he'd said in a tweet Monday. The president added that he would seek recommendations from NFL players who had knelt during the national anthem as to whom he should grant a pardon, and mentioned he was considering a posthumous pardon for boxing great Muhammad Ali.
Trump will be leaving early Saturday prior to the climate portion, CNN reports, and an aide is said to be filling in for him at the meetings.