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French press review 9 June 2018

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More from the G7 summit in Canada, where Donald Trump has been calling for a return of the Russians. There are more deaths in protests by Palestinians in the Gaza Strip. And how bad is palm oil for the planet?


"Smiles and tension at the G7 summit," is Le Monde's main headline.

The tension is all the fault of US President Donald Trump, who arrived at the summit venue in Canada yesterday trailing a long list of commercial, strategic and geopolitical faux pas ... and then added insult to injury by telling his already exasperated fellow leaders that Russia should be welcomed back into the fold of the industrialised world's top talkshop. The Russians were kicked out of the club when they annexed Crimea in Ukraine in 2014.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel nearly had a kitten. "They won't be coming back until there's serious progress on the Ukranian question," she said, getting the support of the Italian new boy, Giuseppe Conte, whose populist governing coalition is known to be anxious to strengthen ties with Moscow.

Even the US diplomatic team was taken by surprise by Trump's sudden enthusiasm for Vladimir Putin. "It wasn't planned," explained one suit, going on to say that a Russian return would not be an official subject of discussion.

Tariffs, trade and troubled waters

But they've plenty to be going on with.

Trade tariffs were the big deal yesterday, with Donald Trump accusing Europe and Canada of protectionism. But French President Emmanuel Macron poured oil on the troubled waters, assuring journalists that the first round of talks had allowed for the removal of many possible misunderstandings.

Trump was himself effervescent, saying he was sure things were going to happen and that they would be very positive. He didn't explain what he was talking about.

Le Monde draws on the evidence of a summit insider to describe what really happened behind the closed doors of the main session.

The tone is described as "professional," even if it rapidly became clear that the gap separating the United States from the six other member states remains vast.

The six are anxious to avoid a trade war with America. Trump wants the rest of the world to buy more from America. A compromise will not easily be found.

France wants the final G7 statement to include a committment to "collective rules" for international trade. Trump prefers deals made up as they go along and unhindered by any global framerwork. The final communiqué may turn out to be a statement of intent by the G6, with Trump jetting off to meet his North Korean counterpart in Singapore, leaving the six second division leaders to stew in their own juice.

More Palestinians killed in Gaza

Right-wing daily Le Figaro gives the top of the front page to the ongoing demonstrations by Palestinians in the Gaza Strip.

Le Figaro says the number of people participating in this latest round of protest is sharply down on earlier demonstrations. The Israeli army counted 10,000 demonstrators. At least four Palestinians were shot dead by Israeli security forces yesterday and a further 500 injured in attempts to breach the barrier separating the Gaza Strip from Israel.

Palm oil blackmail

Libération looks at the dark side of the palm oil business.

The vegetable product is presented by its supporters as the answer to the end of fossil fuels.

But, in fact, says Libé, palm oil production has resulted in the massive destruction of forests, the use of billions of litres of pesticides and the decimation of wildlife. The fuel itself contributes catastrophically to greenhouse gas emissions and is worse for the planet than diesel.

None of which prevented the French government from authorising the opening, by petrol company Total, of a production site here in France.

Libération's editorial, headlined "Blackmail", wonders at the logic of such such a backward step, welcomed by Ecology Minister Nicolas Hulot, in almost the same breath with which he pleads for the protection of biodiversity.

The planet continues to go down the tubes, says Libé, simply because the human race will not accept the simple truth that, if we don't consume less, we'll end up consuming everything.