At this year’s G-7 Summit, held at Biarritz, France, from August 24-26, French President Emmanuel Macron made an optimistic statement regarding the trade war between the United States and China: “President Trump clearly showed his willingness to reach an agreement” with China, and France supports such a scenario.
Perhaps the most surprising occurrence at the Biarritz gathering, however, was a visit from Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif, who joined Macron in a meeting on the sidelines of the summit. AP cited a senior French official, speaking on condition of anonymity, who said Macron personally informed Trump about the invitation offered to Zarif.
Zarif said that conditions for a meeting between President Trump and Iranian President Hassan Rouhani have been created, adding that such a meeting could take place within weeks.
Asked about the possibility of a meeting with Rouhani, Trump told reporters, “If the circumstances were correct or right, I would certainly agree to that.”
Trump also renewed his criticism of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action — known as JCPOA — an agreement on the Iranian nuclear program reached in Vienna on July 14, 2015, between Iran and the P5+1 (the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council — China, France, Russia, the United Kingdom, and the United States — plus Germany) along with the European Union. On October 13, 2017 Trump announced that the United States would not make the certification provided for under U.S. law, but stopped short of terminating the deal.
Trump told reporters at the G-7 that the United States “did the right thing” by pulling out of the JCPOA, but said nonetheless that Iran is now a “country of tremendous potential,” and regarding the possibility of resuming the nuclear program deal, “We can have it done in a very short period of time.”
The United States and France also vowed to resolve what had become a point of contention between the two nations — the French tax (called “GAFA,” for Google, Apple, Facebook, and Amazon) targeting high-profit Internet tech giants. Macron told reporters that the two nations have agreed to work together “to get out of the difficulties that exist between us.” If they can reach a mutually satisfactory agreement, France will then eliminate the tax.
The G7 nations also agreed to provide $22 million in emergency funding to help fight the Amazon fires.
“We will straightaway offer Amazonian countries that signal to us their needs, financial support of at least up to 20 million euros ($22 million),” Macron said.
However, reported NPR on August 27, Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro said his country will reject the aid — unless it comes with an apology from Macron.
NPR reported that Bolsonaro and Macron engaged in a days-long feud after Macron called for action to protect the Amazon, describing the fires as a world environmental crisis that Bolsonaro has allowed to worsen. He also asserted that Bolsonaro, who rejects theories that climate change is caused by human activity, has lied about his effort to combat deforestation.
Bolsonaro responded angrily to Macron’s assertions, saying that the French leader insulted him and was trying to undermine Brazil’s sovereignty by intervening in the Amazon.
It is not known at this point if the two leaders will resolve their differences and if Brazil will agree to accept aid from the G-7 countries.