White House plans G-7 agenda, tells world to 'get on board'

KEVIN FREKING
White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney announces that the G7 will be held at Trump National Doral, Thursday, Oct. 17, 2019, in Washington. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

WASHINGTON (AP) — Get on board, world.

That's the message from the White House as it starts shaping plans for next year's Group of Seven summit in Florida.

Acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney this week outlined the priorities the administration would like America's strongest allies to consider — and adopt — when the U.S. plays host to three days of meetings next June. As the host nation, the U.S. gets to dictate the summit's focus.

Rolling back government regulation is in. So is energy production. Russian President Vladimir Putin could be as well. Climate change is most definitely out.

Mulvaney said Thursday that the U.S. plan for the summit would involve "taking a lot of what we have been doing here domestically with such success and trying to encourage the rest of the world to get on board."

He said flatly, "Climate change will not be on the agenda."

Mulvaney spoke about the administration's priorities while announcing next year's location for the G-7 — Trump's golf resort near Miami. The choice of a Trump property caused a stir with government watchdog groups and some Democratic lawmakers.

Leaders from France, Italy, Japan, Canada, Great Britain and Germany are already raising concerns that climate change will be left out at the meeting of the alliance, which was formed in 1975 to provide a venue for the world's noncommunist economic powers.

"I really think that the responsibility of the most powerful states around the world is to address the issues that are a matter of concern for our population," French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire said. "First matter of concern for our population, be it the U.S. or Europe, is climate change.

"What would be the relevance of the G-7 that would not address one of the most important topics of the day?"

Nine of the 10 hottest years on record have been in the past 15 years, with records going back to 1880. Trump has announced plans to pull the U.S. out of the Paris climate accord because he views it as putting the United States at an economic disadvantage to the rest of the world.

He has focused instead on increasing energy production from all sources to boost the economy and jobs, with a focus on the fossil fuels that drive global warming.

Trump skipped a discussion on climate with other world leaders at the G-7 summit in France earlier this year.

Differences over Russia did not stay hidden, either. Trump would like to see Russia re-admitted to the Group of Seven club. The former G-8 kicked Russia out after Putin annexed the Crimean Peninsula in 2014.

"We go to the G-7 and what dominates so much of the discussion? Russia," Mulvaney said. "Russian energy. Russian military policy. The Russian economy. It dominates a lot of the discussion. Wouldn't it be better to have them inside as part of those conversations?"

The summit will also take place in the heat of a presidential election, adding yet another combustible wrinkle to deliberations.

At the most recent summit, Trump sought to deliver a message about how the G-7 leaders get along great and enjoy tremendous unity, papering over fundamental differences in policy.

It won't be easy maintaining that message with the strains of a presidential election shaping most every comment that comes from the event.

"At this point, the summit has all the hallmarks of a train wreck," said Derek Chollet, executive vice president and senior adviser for security and defense policy at the German Marshall Fund think tank in Washington. "From the venue, to the agenda, to the possibility of Putin coming, to the timing — happening right in the middle of what will be one of the most divisive and ugly presidential campaigns in American history."

The most one can hope, Chollet said, "is this G-7 won't do irreparable harm. But perhaps even that may be too optimistic."

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Associated Press writers Deb Riechmann and Bani Sapra contributed to this report.