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Trump says world leaders 'getting along very well' at G-7 summit despite trade tensions

NBC News logo NBC News 8/25/2019 Shannon Pettypiece
a group of people sitting at a table: France's President Emmanuel Macron, Canada's Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, President Donald Trump and European Council President Donald Tusk attend  a working session on the second day of the annual G7 Summit on Sunday. © PHILIPPE WOJAZER France's President Emmanuel Macron, Canada's Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, President Donald Trump and European Council President Donald Tusk attend a working session on the second day of the annual G7 Summit on Sunday.

BIARRITZ, France — President Donald Trump said Sunday world leaders meeting here this weekend “are getting along very well” and criticized the media for suggesting there were tensions between him and the group of allies he has threatened with tariffs.

Trump arrived at the summit Saturday amid an escalating trade war with China and threatening to start another with Europe.

But the president has struck a softer tone since landing in France.

"Thus far, this has been a really great G-7," he said during one appearance before the media.

Speaking to reporters during a breakfast meeting with British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, Trump even suggested he has had second thoughts about his latest round of tariffs on Chinese goods.

“I have second thoughts about everything,” he added.

Trump also said he has no plans right now to declare a national emergency on China, something he had claimed he could do to force U.S. companies to stop doing business in China.

He reiterated, though, that “in many ways it is an emergency.”

Trump had dinner Saturday night with leaders attending the Group of Seven Summit and will be holding a series of one-on-one meetings Sunday.

Slideshow by photo services

Past meetings between the nations — Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan and the U.S. — have been rife with tension.

At last year’s gathering Trump threatened to end trade with all of the member countries, showed up late for a breakfast, skipped a meeting on climate change and withdrew his endorsement of a joint statement at the end of the summit.He then took to Twitter to bash Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau as he jetted off to meet with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.

Ahead of this year’s summit, Trump revived his attacks on Europe, accusing the countries there of “killing us on trade,” during a campaign rally. He threatened a tariff on French wine and called the prime minister of Denmark “nasty” for rebuffing his proposal to buy Greenland.

But since arriving, Trump has sought to paint a picture of unity and blamed the media for suggesting there would be tensions during this year’s gathering.

“We are having very good meetings,” Trump tweeted. “The Leaders are getting along very well, and our Country, economically, is doing great - the talk of the world!”

He later said his lunch Saturday with French President Emmanuel Macron was the best hour and a half he's spent with the leader. "It was a perfect period of time," he added.

But while Trump sought to play up unity between the leaders, some cracks emerged.

The president told reporters that the leaders had a “lively discussion” on whether Russia should be allowed back into the group and said it was “certainly possible” they will invite Russia next year when the U.S. is the host.

"I think it is a work in progress, we have a number of people who would like to see Russia back," Trump said during a meeting with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.

"I think it would be a positive, it is something we are discussing." Trump said some leaders agree with him, but declined to say who.

Some daylight did emerge between Abe and Trump on the issue of North Korea.

Asked by a reporter about Pyongyang's flurry of recent missile tests, Trump said he was "not happy" but that North Korea wasn't in violation of an agreement.

Trump then turned to Abe, who disagreed, saying it was a clear violation of United Nations resolutions. While Trump wouldn't go as far, he insisted both leaders were in alignment.

In his first meeting with Johnson as British prime minister, Trump said his new counterpart was the “right man for the job” and that he thinks he can get a trade deal done with the U.K. quickly.

“We’re working on a very big trade deal and I think it’s going to work out,” Trump said.

Johnson joked that Trump was "on message" and praised the president for America's economic performance, but he did offer one note of caution on the issue that has loomed over the summit.

"Just to register a faint sheep-like note of our view on the trade war," he said. "We're in favor of trade peace."

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