June 6, 2018 / 10:46 AM / in 15 days

Merkel expects difficult G7, will seek out Trump for talks

BERLIN (Reuters) - Germany’s Angela Merkel said she expects “difficult discussions” at a June 8-9 summit of leaders from the Group of Seven leading economies but will try to talk to U.S. President Donald Trump about their differences on Iran and trade tariffs.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel speaks during a session at the lower house of parliament Bundestag in Berlin, Germany June 6, 2018. REUTERS/Axel Schmidt

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 aluminum.

“I will of course try to speak to the U.S. president about the current problems that we have overall, in particular on Iran and on trade tariffs,” Merkel told the Bundestag lower house of parliament during a question and answer session with lawmakers.

Arguing that Canada was hit hard by U.S. tariffs on steel and aluminium, she suggested they work together to find a solution. “We should take a common stance, all those who are concerned with tariffs,” she said.

Ministers from Germany, France and Britain have already written to U.S. officials urging them to shield European companies working in Iran from getting caught up in Washington’s new sanctions on the Islamic Republic.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel attends a session at the lower house of parliament Bundestag in Berlin, Germany June 6, 2018. REUTERS/Axel Schmidt

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

The U.S. president’s decision to withdraw Washington from the Iran deal has left Germany and other European countries standing alongside Moscow in defence of the nuclear accord.

Merkel said that after Russia’s annexation of Crimea in 2014, the Russians could not be readmitted to the G7, but she favoured keeping up talks with Moscow despite differences.

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“Dialogue is always important,” she said during a question and answer session with German lawmakers. “We must talk to each other, perhaps even more when we have differences of opinion.”

Turning to European reform, Merkel said the principle of conditions being attached to any aid doled out in the euro zone, including under a proposed European Monetary Fund, was not up for question.

“The principle of conditionality for the provision of aid in certain circumstances, is not being questioned in any way,” she said, stressing that she expected there to be few differences between European leaders at the G7 summit.

In a weekend newspaper interview, Merkel embraced some of French President Emmanuel Macron’s ideas for more solidarity in the euro zone and the broader European Union.

The interview marked her most detailed response to Macron’s ideas for reforming Europe, and sought to avert a damaging rift with Paris at a time of high anxiety over Italy and growing transatlantic tensions.

But the prospect of more solidarity has raised concerns in Germany, where conservative lawmakers are particularly allergic to the idea of German taxpayers being asked to fund other European countries.

Asked again about the reform ideas she detailed in the weekend newspaper interview, she sought to offer reassurance: “I see in what I have proposed no revision to the culture of what we have always said: that there is conditionality.”

Reporting by Paul Carrel and Madeline Chambers; Editing by Toby Chopra

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