Speaking at a joint press conference with US President Donald Trump at the G7 summit in Biarritz on Monday, French President Emmanuel Macron pushed for a meeting between the US and Iranian presidents within the next few weeks.
Macron said a “roadmap of sorts” for such a meeting had been laid out after the surprise visit of Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif to the G7 summit at Macron’s invitation.
The French president said he had also spoken to Iranian President Rouhani, adding that if Trump and Rouhani were to meet there was hope for a new nuclear accord.
The meeting was a French initiative but Trump was kept informed, Macron said.
Asked later if he thought the timeline of just a few weeks proposed by Macron seemed realistic, Trump said: “It does,” adding that he thought Rouhani would also agree to a meeting.
“I think he’s going to want to meet,” he said. “I think Iran wants to get this situation straightened out.”
Macron went on to say a “very good deal” had been reached on a divisive new French tax on digital giants that the United States said unfairly targeted US companies. The so-called GAFA tax – named for the Google, Apple, Facebook and Amazon tech giants – became another point of contention between France and the United States when it was passed in July.
France’s Macron told reporters that companies that pay the tax would be able to deduct the amount once a new international deal on how to tax internet companies is found next year. When reporters, however, pressed Trump on whether he would scrap earlier threats to slap retaliatory tariffs on French wine, the US president declined to answer either way.
Trump, for his part, keenly praised Macron who had done a “fantastic job” at the G7. “This was a very special, a very unified two and a half days, and I want to thank you,” Trump told his host.
“There was great unity. We would have stayed for another hour. Nobody wanted to leave. We were accomplishing a lot, but I think more importantly, we getting along very well.”
Macron reiterated, saying the two presidents had found “real points of convergence, unprecedented, very positive, that will allow us to go forward in a very effective way”.
Points of contention
Divisions between the United States and the other six of the world’s major economies were apparent, however, on issues including trade policies, Russia and climate change. Macron spoke of the need to modernise the international tax system in order to eliminate an escalation of trade tensions.
“The aim ultimately is to revamp international taxes within the OECD to combat harmful trade practices which are also harmful to the US economy,” he said.
Trump’s recommendation that Russia rejoin the group was met with a lack of enthusiasm. Russia was kicked out of what was then known as the G8 after it annexed Ukraine’s Crimea peninsula in 2014. And though G7 leaders felt it was still too soon to reintegrate Russia, Macron announced talks for September between Russia and the Ukraine aimed at making progress on the Ukrainian crisis.
The US president again broke ranks with his G7 counterparts when he skipped a key session on climate change at which the other leaders pledged €20 million ($22 million) to combat the wildfires raging in the Amazon, most of which will be used for fire-fighting aircraft.
When reporters questioned Trump on whether he planned to reduce his country’s reliance on fossil fuels, he quickly responded that the US “has tremendous wealth under its feet” and that he’s not going to waste it “on dreams, on windmills”.
During his closing remarks following the conclusion of the joint press conference with Trump, Macron elaborated on some of the more fractious aspects of the changes to digital services proposed by G7 participants.
As a consequence of the rapidly changing digital sector, we need certain rules, said Macron because, “we don’t just want it to be an economic jungle”.
He said that a charter for tackling online hate speech had gained widespread support, except from the US, which had declined to sign on,
“We had a very good discussion with the United States, which for legal reasons was not able to formalise the agreement on this point,” Macron said, adding he was hopeful it could be done in the coming weeks.
David Holmes explains how Trump’s conspiracy theory on Ukraine serves Putin’s interests
House impeachment witnesses Fiona Hill and David Holmes explained what Russia's president Vladimir Putin gained from Republican conspiracy theories blaming Ukraine for 2016 election interference.
President Donald Trump asked Ukraine's president to investigate those claims, which are disputed by U.S. intelligence services, in addition to announcing a probe of Democratic rival Joe Biden -- and the two impeachment witnesses explained how that helped Putin.
"First of all, to deflect from the allegations of Russian interference," testified Holmes, who served three years in the U.S. embassy in Moscow. "Second of all, to drive a wedge between the United States and Ukraine, which Russia wants to essentially get back into its atmosphere of influence. Thirdly, to besmirch Ukraine and is leadership and degrade and erode support for Ukraine from other key partners in Europe and elsewhere."
Viewers astonished as Fiona Hill rips apart the falsehoods spread by ‘bloody nitwit’ Devin Nunes on live TV
Fiona Hill knocked down conspiracy theories about Ukraine spread by Rep. Devin Nunes (R-CA) and other Republican lawmakers, and impeachment viewers were astonished by her thorough debunking.
The former National Security Council adviser testified that claims pinning blame on Ukraine for 2016 election interference absolves Russia and serves its president Vladimir Putin's interests, and undermines U.S. national security.
“The impact of the successful 2016 Russian campaign remains evident today,” Hill testified in her opening statement. “Our nation is being torn apart. Truth is questioned. Our highly professional and expert career Foreign Service is being undermined.”
David Holmes details Giuliani’s mission to get Marie Yovanovitch fired: ‘Unlike anything I have seen in my professional career’
During his opening statement before giving testimony at the House impeachment hearings this Thursday, National Security Council expert on Russia, and David Holmes, went into detail about former Prosecutor General of Ukraine Yuriy Lutsenko, who has become a key figure in the Ukraine scandal enveloping the White House. Lutsenko allegedly urged Rudy Giuliani’s associates Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman to fire Marie Yovanovitch from her position as ambassador to Ukraine.
Giuliani saw Yovanovitch as a hindrance to having the Ukrainian government investigate Hunter and Joe Biden’s ties to a corrupt company Burisma Holdings. In his statement, Holmes detailed Giuliani's dealings in gunning up a Ukrainian investigation against the Bidens.