Macron, Trump break the ice with surprise pre-G7 lunch

French President Emmanuel Macron and his US counterpart Donald Trump have found “points of convergence” on subjects including trade, Iran’s nuclear program and the wildfires consuming large parts of the Amazon, a French presidency official said on Saturday.

After an unscheduled two-hour lunch before the opening of the G7 summit in Biarritz, Macron “created the conditions for a good degree of convergence within the (G7) group, after obtaining clarifications from Donald Trump” on key issues, the official said.

The two leaders sat on a terrace at the ornate Hotel du Palais in the Atlantic resort of Biarritz, the G7 venue, just a day after Trump reiterated his threat of tariffs against French wine in retaliation for a new tax on major US tech companies.

The surprise lunch appeared to be an attempt by Macron to get the summit off on a good footing after a tense build-up in which Trump and EU leaders traded threats of trade war.

Speaking to reporters in fluent English, Macron called Trump “a very special guest”.

He said that they would be discussing a raft of pressing international issues, including the standoff with Iran over its alleged nuclear weapon ambitions, and stressed that “strong coordination” was needed.

Trump met that appeal for unity with a somewhat softer approach of his own, having left the United States on Friday with a dire warning about taxing French wines “like they’ve never seen before”.

“We actually have a lot in common,” Trump said across the table to Macron, adding that they had “been friends for a long time.”

Trump said that at times they “go at each other a little bit” but had a “special relationship”.

The setting for the G7 summit in the French seaside resort clearly pleased the US president.

“So far so good. The weather is perfect. Everybody’s getting along. I think we will accomplish a lot this weekend,” he said.

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