Donald Trump explains what was going on in THAT iconic G7 photo with Germany’s Angela Merkel

Photo showing a determined German chancellor standing up to an intransigent US president appears destined for the history books

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 12 June, 2018, 6:18pm
UPDATED : Tuesday, 12 June, 2018, 6:28pm

US President Donald Trump said he and German Chancellor Angela Merkel were waiting for a final draft of a joint statement by G7 leaders when an iconic photograph was taken over the weekend showing the two leaders in what appeared to be a confrontation.

“We finished the meeting, really, everybody was happy, and I agreed to sign something,” Trump told reporters at a news conference following his summit with Kim Jong-un in Singapore.

“I asked for changes. I demanded changes. And in fact, those changes were made. That picture was, we were waiting for the document.

“Actually, we were just talking – the whole group – about something unrelated to everything, very friendly.”

The picture (and many memes) have since gone viral on the internet, and Trump raised it himself at the news conference after he was asked about his relationship with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

The image, which drew comparisons to a Baroque painting, shows Merkel standing at the centre of the frame leaning across a table before a seated Trump, his arms crossed in defiance.

Looking focused or exasperated depending on the viewer’s interpretation, Merkel is flanked by British Prime Minister Theresa May and French President Emmanuel Macron, their faces largely obscured. Shinzo Abe of Japan looks on with a world-weary expression.

Many saw a distillation of a crisis of the West in the photograph, and a revival of the debate launched by US and British media after Trump’s 2016 election whether Merkel was the new “leader of the free world”.

On Saturday Trump called Trudeau “very dishonest and weak” in a tweet after Trudeau repeated criticisms of US tariffs on imported steel and aluminium and Trump’s trade policies in a news conference following the Group of Seven meeting in Quebec.

“Canada does have a very big advantage over us. We have a very big trade deficit with Canada. They don’t take our farm products,” Trump complained at the news conference Tuesday.

The US had a trade surplus with Canada of about US$7.7 billion in 2016, according to the Bureau of Economic Analysis, although Statistics Canada data show the US had a trade deficit of about US$14.6 billion.

Trump revoked his administration’s support for the G7 communique after Trudeau’s news conference.

“He learned,” Trump said.

“That’s going to cost a lot of money for the people of Canada.”

Other G7 countries lobbied unsuccessfully at the summit for the US oto reverse its tariffs on imported steel and aluminium imports.

Trump turned the tables by challenging world leaders to eliminate all trade barriers, tariffs and subsidies and he threatened to stop trading with them entirely.

Bloomberg, Agence France-Presse