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Macron sees progress at G7

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Donald Trump arrives in Quebec for the G7 summit REUTERS/Leah Millis

French President Emmanuel Macron on Friday claimed to see progress at the G7 meeting in Canada, despite differences with Donald Trump over tariffs and Iran and the US president's surprise call for Russia to be readmitted to the rich nations' club.


"Things are moving forward at the G7," Macron told reporters in English before a one-on-one meeting with the US leader.

"I think we had a very open and direct discussion this afternoon, we've always had this kind of discussion. And I think on trade, there is a critical path, there is a way to progress altogether."

A number of possible misunderstandings hade been raised, he said. "We had a very direct and open discussion and I saw the willingness on all the sides to find agreement and have a win-win approach for our people, our workers and our middle classes."

Trump also struck a positive note.

He said that Macron had been "very helpful" over the US's "very big trade deficit" with the European Union.

"We have a very really good relationship, very special," he said, despite speculation that the warm relations established during visits to each others' countries may have been soured by his announcement of steel and aluminium tariffs and withdrawal from the multilateral Iran nuclear deal.

Russia readmittal

Trump caused another stir before leaving for the G7 by calling for Russia to be readmitted to the group.

The country joined in 1997, making it the G8, but was suspended in 2014, following its annexation of Crimea, and announced its withdrawal in 2017.

US officials said the announcement had been unexpected and several leaders rejected the idea.

"We are in agreement that a return of Russia to the G7 cannot happen unless substantial progress is made in terms of the problems with Ukraine," German Chancellor Angela Merkel said.

When tackled by his counterparts at the meeting, new Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte, who had earlier tweeted that he agreed with Trump, said Italy's position had not changed and that Russia should only be readmitted when conditions were right.

Trump left the meeting early to prepare for his summit with Kim Jong-un in Singapore on 12 June, leaving the other leaders to draw up a final statement, which France insists must include recognition of the need to work within "collective rules", even if that means only six countries sign it.