Trump pivoted again on China, turning down the heat on the trade war — for now.
President Trump shifted tone on his trade war with China yet again on Monday, calling President Xi Jinping of China a “great leader” just three days after branding him an “enemy” of the United States.
Mr. Trump said that Chinese officials had reached out by telephone and that the two sides would soon restart talks aimed at a trade agreement, after the latest escalation in tariffs and his “order” to American companies to look for ways to pull out of China.
“We were called and we’re going to start very shortly to negotiate,” Mr. Trump said as he met with President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi of Egypt on the sidelines of the Group of 7 summit meeting. “We’ll see what happens, but I think we’re going to make a deal.”
Mr. Trump appeared to be toning down a conflict that has battered world financial markets, hours after China’s chief negotiator did the same.
“We are willing to resolve the issue through consultations and cooperation in a calm attitude and resolutely oppose the escalation of the trade war,” said Liu He, China’s vice premier. “We believe that the escalation of the trade war is not beneficial for China, the United States nor to the interests of the people of the world.”
Mr. Trump has pivoted repeatedly in his language on the conflict in recent days. On Friday, after China imposed new tariffs in retaliation for American levies, Mr. Trump said he “hereby ordered” American companies to start leaving and vowed to increase tariffs of his own. He referred to Mr. Xi as an “enemy.”
On Sunday, he said he had “second thoughts” about the escalation. But within hours, aides rushed out statements saying that the only regret he had was not being even tougher on China.
G7 leaders look for ways to address fires ravaging the Amazon rain forest.
The fires raging in the Amazon rain forest are again on the Group of 7 leaders’ agenda on Monday, after President Emmanuel Macron of France said the group was close to an agreement on helping Brazil and other countries fight the blazes.
Mr. Macron and Angela Merkel, Germany’s chancellor, have called the fires a global crisis and a significant contributor to climate change, and insisted that the Group of 7 address it.
The French leader, in particular, has been sharply critical of Brazil’s president, Jair Bolsonaro, and threatened to block a major trade deal over the issue.
Mr. Bolsonaro’s initial reaction was hostile, but facing international condemnation, he struck a more conciliatory tone on Friday and deployed the military to fight the fires — a tacit admission that the country’s response had been inadequate.
The Group of 7 leaders discussed the Amazon on Sunday at their meeting in Biarritz, France, and took it up again on Monday morning, at a meeting dedicated to the climate and biodiversity.
On Sunday evening, Mr. Macron told reporters, “There’s a real convergence to say, ‘Let’s all agree to help those countries hit by these fires.’” If was not clear whether he would continue to try to block a major trade deal between the European Union and South American nations.
The fires accelerate depletion of one of the world’s largest forests, a crucial sink for the atmospheric carbon dioxide that contributes to global warming. They also threaten Indigenous peoples and shrinking wildlife habitat.
Even before the recent fires, deforestation had accelerated under Mr. Bolsonaro, whom environmental groups accused of encouraging it. Fires in the Amazon are often set intentionally — and illegally — to clear forests for farming or ranching.
Trump says he knew in advance that Iran’s foreign minister would be in Biarritz.
President Trump on Monday endorsed the surprise French move to bring Iran’s foreign minister to Biarritz during the Group of 7 meeting, saying he had been asked in advance and had no objection. But he said he had declined to meet with the minister.
President Emmanuel Macron of France, who has tried to preserve the landmark 2015 international nuclear agreement with Iran that Mr. Trump has abandoned, extended a last-minute invitation to Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif to hold talks on the sidelines of the summit.
Mr. Zarif’s arrival on Sunday caught many diplomats and the news media by surprise. He has met with Mr. Macron, the French foreign minister and officials from Britain and Germany.
Speaking with reporters, Mr. Trump said he had given his blessing for the meetings.
“I spoke to President Macron yesterday, and I knew everything he was doing,” Mr. Trump said. “And I approve whatever he was doing. And I thought it was fine.”
But he chose not to see Mr. Zarif, who became the target of sanctions by the Trump administration last month.
“I think it’s too soon to meet, I didn’t want to meet,” Mr. Trump said. “But it’s true there’ll be time to meet with Iran, and it’s going to be a great thing for Iran. They have a great potential.”
He again criticized the 2015 nuclear deal but said he would like to strike a better agreement that would be beneficial to Tehran if it gives up support for international terrorism. “We’re looking to make Iran rich again,” he said.
Richard Pérez-Peña contributed reporting from London.