Leaders of the Group of Seven industrialized nations disagreed yesterday over how to deal with Iran, where US President Donald Trump has denied that he has signed an agreement to give France a leading role as an intermediary with the world's major democracies, which French President Emmanuel Macron denies. The leaders of the group gave him a "mandate" to hold talks with Iran on behalf of the group, announcing to reporters that the group agreed to "help the countries affected by the Amazon fires" as soon as possible.
In detail, Trump tried to ease tensions between the G7 leaders after a friendly dinner on Tuesday in the southwestern French resort of Biarritz, but quickly denounced France's claims that the leaders had agreed to allow President Emmanuel Macron to deliver a message to Iran on their behalf.
Trump denied he had endorsed a decision by the G7 to authorize Macron to talk to Iran on behalf of the group, but said he did not oppose the idea of communication.
"I didn't discuss this," Trump said yesterday, describing the dinner as "very good" and blaming the media for anything otherwise.
"We can't stop people from talking," Trump said during a meeting with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe. "If they want to talk, they can." He said he supported any Macron outreach aimed at defusing tensions, noting that Abe was also seeking to reach out to Iran. "We will have our own communication," he said.
But from other accounts, it seems that the dinner last night was tense, and there was a clear split between him and the rest of the G7 leaders.
The French president denied that the G7 leaders had given him a "mandate" to talk to Iran on behalf of the world's largest economy.
"The G7 is an informal forum," Macron said. "There is no such thing as an official mandate given to anyone within the G7."
However, Macron made it clear that he would continue consultations with Iran "on behalf of France, but in light of the consultations that took place" among the countries of the group.
For months, Macron has taken a leading role in trying to salvage the 2015 nuclear deal, which has been disintegrating since Trump withdrew the United States.
On the other hand, the French president told reporters that the G7 countries agreed to "help the countries affected" by the Amazon fires "as soon as possible." "There is a real consensus to say that we all agree to provide assistance as soon as possible to countries affected by these fires," Macron said.
In the face of calls for help, especially from Colombia, Macron added, "we have to be present."
Macron criticized the "inaction" of Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro in the face of this environmental disaster.
Images of the ignition of the Amazon jungle have sparked international outrage and are at the heart of the G7 discussions, despite Brazil's initial reservations.
Macron pointed to ongoing contacts "with all Amazon countries, so that we can finalize very clear commitments on technical and financial means" to address the disaster.
"We are working on an international mobilization mechanism so that we can help that country more effectively," he said.
On the issue of long-term reforestation of the forest, Macron said, "Many sensitivities have been expressed around the table," pointing to the adherence of the countries concerned to their national sovereignty.
"But the challenge of the Amazon for those countries, as well as for the international community, in terms of biodiversity, oxygen and combating global warming, drives us to work on afforestation," the French president said.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Chilean President Sebastian Pinera held consultations on fighting the devastating fires of the Amazon forests in Brazil and neighboring countries.
A spokeswoman for the German government said after a meeting between Merkel and Pinera on the sidelines of the G7 summit.
Leaders of the seven nations met yesterday morning to focus on what they can do to boost global growth at a time of growing uncertainty.
Business owners from around the world are worried by the trade dispute between the United States and China, which has led to new taxes on imports of hundreds of billions. Leaders of Britain, France, Germany, Japan, Canada, Italy and the United States, as well as a representative of the 28-nation European Union, will attend the summit.
Macron: There is no authorization from the G7 to communicate with Iran on behalf of the group.