U.S. President Donald Trump, speaking at a summit in Canada on Saturday, said trade among the G-7 nations should be free of tariffs and other barriers, in what looked like an olive branch to close allies amid simmering tensions over duties imposed on steel and aluminum.
"No tariffs, no barriers, that's the way it should be — and no subsidies," the president said at a press conference.
The president, however, did not elaborate on how or whether the United States would reduce its tariff barriers. Instead, he pointed to Canadian duties on U.S. dairy.
"We don't want to pay anything — why should we pay?" Trump said. "Ultimately, that's what you want. You want a tariff free, no barriers and you want no subsidies."
Trump's statements come amid historic tensions over trade between the United States and the other G-7 nations, which include America's closest allies — the United Kingdom, Italy, Canada, Germany, France and Japan.
The president has imposed steel and aluminium tariffs on every other member of the G-7, citing national security concerns. The move has sparked outrage among U.S. allies and risks isolating the United States at the summit.
Trump left the G-7 summit early to fly to Singapore, where he is expected to participate in a historic summit with North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un.
Despite offering what seemed like an olive branch, Trump again railed against what he considers unfair trade practices, saying the United States has been taken advantage of for decades.
"We're talking to all countries, and it's going to stop, or we'll stop trading with them. And that's a very profitable answer if we have to do it," Trump said. "We're like the piggy bank that everybody's robbing, and that ends."
The president also reiterated his call for Russia to be reinstated in the G-7, a move most other members oppose, with the exception of Italy's new populist government. Russia was removed from the group, then the G-8, because it annexed Crimea from Ukraine in 2014.
"I would rather see Russia in with the G-8 rather than the G-7," Trump said. He blamed former president Barack Obama, his predecessor, for Russia's annexation of Crimea.
"Obama can say all he wants, but he allowed Russia to take Crimea," Trump said. "I may have had a much different attitude."
Initial reports indicated that the United States had endorsed a G-7 statement calling for tariff reductions. President Trump, however, subsequently refused to back the statement, calling Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau "weak" and threatening car tariffs.
French President Emmanuel Macron on Thursday threatened to exclude the United States from the communique that is traditionally issued by the G-7 nations at the end of their summits.
Trump, hours after Macron's statement, lashed out at the French President and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau over trade, accusing them of levying "massive tariffs" and "non-monetary barriers."