Old U.S. Friends Brace for Meeting With Trump

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When Angela Merkel and Emmanuel Macron made back-to-back visits to the White House last year in a coordinated effort to sway Donald Trump, he rebuffed their approaches.

Trump’s decision to pursue U.S. policy on Iran and trade regardless of his European allies’ concerns was a turning point in transatlantic ties, a pivot that’ll be on show this weekend at the Group of Seven summit in France.

The rupture came shortly after the German and French leaders’ visits last April, when Trump introduced tariffs on European Union steel and quit the Iran nuclear deal, later to threaten sanctions on any company from the bloc doing business with the Islamic Republic. That followed his withdrawal from the Paris climate accord.

“With friends like that who needs enemies,” tweeted EU President Donald Tusk.

As Trump steps up his bid for a second term in 2020, Europe isn’t waiting for the outcome. As our graphics show, the EU is already examining how it can loosen its dependence on the U.S. that emerged after World War Two.

Still, France and Germany also have their differences and Trump, who likes to exploit rivalries among his would-be adversaries, is working to prise them apart, Gregory Viscusi reports.

It threatens to make for a torrid G-7.

Global Headlines

Brexit stalemate | U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s first public attempt to renegotiate the Brexit deal has already hit a wall. Irish Premier Leo Varadkar rejected Johnson’s bid to explore alternatives to preventing a hard border with Ireland and said a letter to EU officials only reiterated previous demands.

Brexit Party politicians said a surge in stock trading in Zurich was another sign the U.K. can go it alone. Volumes increased after Switzerland demanded all trading in Swiss shares happen in its own market, retaliating against an EU attempt to force investors based in the bloc to trade in its borders.

Second-term prospects | Trump is showing vulnerability on the two most important re-election predictors: approval ratings and the economy. But he’s raising more money than any Democrat and has the backing of a Republican Party apparatus that’s casting his foes as radical and out of touch. His geographic advantage is so strong he could lose the popular vote by 5 million ballots and still win, according to one analysis.

Misyrlena Egkolfopoulou looks at why Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders might have a hard time selling their plans to address student debt to New Hampshire voters.

Olive branch | Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam pledged to establish a platform for dialogue, investigate complaints against police and institute a fact-finding study into the demonstrations that have rocked Asia’s financial hub for more than two months. That indicates a softer stance but falls short of demands of pro-democracy advocates calling for her ouster, and follows a demonstration on Sunday that largely avoided the violent clashes with police of previous weeks.

Missing worker | The U.K. said it was “extremely concerned” by reports a Hong Kong consulate worker was detained during an Aug. 8 trip to mainland China, a case that could raise tension between Beijing and London. Concerns about the safety of foreign diplomatic staff operating in China have increased since Michael Kovrig, a security analyst on leave from the Canadian foreign service, was detained in December.

Playing peacemaker | Trump spoke to the leaders of India and Pakistan as the two South Asian nations argue afresh over Kashmir. The speed with which Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government has sought to take control of the contested state has given rise to larger concerns about U.S.-Taliban peace talks to end the 18-year war in Afghanistan — another point of contention between New Delhi and Islamabad.

What to Watch

Italy’s de facto leader Matteo Salvini promised tax cuts and more spending in a final push to force new elections. The salvo comes with Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte due to address parliament where he will almost certainly signal the formal end of his administration. The U.S. has granted Huawei another 90-day reprieve from some sanctions as founder Ren Zhengfei warned in an internal memo that the China telecom giants is at a “live or die moment.” Lawyers representing migrants asked a federal judge in California to reinstate a nationwide order that blocked the Trump administration from stopping some Central Americans applying for asylum in the U.S.

And finally … Packed into an open-air theater to watch a play on climate change, Egyptian villagers near the ancient city of Luxor rock with laughter at the local puns — even though it’s a performance about life and death. Salma El Wardany reports the troupe is teaching farmers how to save water and cope with the hotter temperatures that are threatening to wipe out at least a third of food production in the south by 2050.

 

–With assistance from Jess Shankleman and Kathleen Hunter.

To contact the author of this story: Alan Crawford in Berlin at acrawford6@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Ruth Pollard at rpollard2@bloomberg.net, Michael Winfrey

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