June 5, 2018 / 8:35 AM / 6 months ago

Germany unsure whether G7 leaders will agree on communique summit

BERLIN (Reuters) - European states will present a united front on issues from Iran to trade and climate change at a Group of Seven summit starting on Friday but it is unclear if G7 leaders will agree on a communique at the end, a senior German official said on Tuesday.

FILE PHOTO: German Chancellor Angela Merkel looks on during a news conference with Portugal's Prime Minister Antonio Costa in Lisbon, Portugal, May 31 2018. REUTERS/Rafael Marchante/File Photo

The June 8-9 meeting in Charlevoix, Canada, will begin with a working session on economic growth and trade - topical issues after U.S. President Donald Trump infuriated Canada and European Union G7 members by imposing tariffs on steel and aluminium.

“At this time, it is extremely important that we have such meetings. Whether there will be a communique or not I don’t know,” the official told reporters at a briefing. It would be rare for the summit not to issue a communique.

“Our aim is to get a joint communique but we have our positions which we will not give up,” the official added. “It is not easier than in previous years. .. We will see.”

Trump’s disdain for diplomatic niceties and his “America first” policies have created a rift with countries whose alliance with the United States dates to the Cold War with the Soviet Union.

Asked whether Trump would come to the summit, the official added: “We have to expect so.”

Asked whether the summit could be the most difficult or even the last such meeting of the G7, the official replied: “I see no reason why it should be the last summit. Whether it is more difficult than all others, I will tell you at the end.”

Merkel would meet other leaders bilaterally at the summit but these meetings were still being worked out, he said.

The German government hopes that the United States may grant exceptions to European companies doing business in Iran despite abandoning the 2015 international nuclear deal and reimposing sanctions against the Islamic Republic.

Another German official said there was no question that the G7 would welcome Russia back to the club, adding there were still reasons to stick to the existing arrangement.

Russia has been excluded from the Group of Eight since 2014 after its annexation of the Crimea region and its relations with many Western nations have been strained over issues including its role in Syria and the conflict in eastern Ukraine.

Reporting by Paul Carrel and Andreas Rinke; Writing by Madeline Chambers; Editing by Andrea Shalal and Matthew Mpoke Bigg

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