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International relations

G-7 leaders stand divided on trade, climate

Donald Trump's agenda appears to be driving a wedge into the group

TAORMINA, Italy -- Group of Seven leaders on Saturday managed to project a united front in fighting protectionism as they closed a two-day annual meeting here. But the meeting also highlighted a divide between the U.S. and the four European countries in the group.

In the joint communique released after the meeting, the leaders reiterated their commitment "to fight protectionism." This wording was initially opposed by the U.S. But the "to fight protectionism" phrase is followed by a comma, and the rest of the sentence goes on to say, "while standing firm against all unfair trade practices."

It is believed the wording was added at the behest of the U.S.

The seven leaders were in agreement in calling for tougher sanctions against Pyongyang and to step up the fight against terrorism.

But the meeting highlighted a divide between the U.S. and the European G-7 countries over trade and climate-change issues.

The schism seems to have been opened by U.S. President Donald Trump's "America first" agenda. During the meeting, the U.S. demanded that the communique drop a vow to fight all forms of protectionism. A prolonged debate ensued.

The group has included the vow in every one of its communiques since 2007, when the summit took place in Heiligendamm, Germany.

During the summit, Trump also called on the other G-7 countries to lower tariffs.

Japan and the four European countries called on the U.S. to remain committed to the 2015 Paris agreement on climate change, but the U.S. refused.

According to the communique, the U.S. is "in the process of reviewing its policies on climate change and on the Paris Agreement and thus is not in a position to join the consensus."

Yet the six other leaders in the communique reaffirmed their "strong commitment to swiftly implement the Paris Agreement."

The communique also notes North Korea's "new levels of threat of a grave nature to international peace and stability."

In a separate statement, the leaders condemned Monday's suicide bombing in Manchester and called for reinforcing anti-terrorist measures, including the involvement of internet service providers in counter-terrorism operations.

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