Locally sourced Basque food prepared by Michelin-star chefs may have been on the menu, but that didn’t satisfy Donald Trump during a G7 summit dinner in Biarritz, France on Saturday night (Aug. 24). According to reporting by the Guardian, heated debates began when the US president demanded the group readmit Russia. Russia was removed by the previously named G8 after it annexed Crimea in 2014.
During the seaside meal, French president Emmanuel Macron and European Council president Donald Tusk opposed Trump’s demands. A diplomat present told the publication that the evening was tense: “Most of the other leaders insisted on this being a family, a club, a community of liberal democracies and for that reason they said you cannot allow president Putin—who does not represent that—back in.”
Italian prime minister Giuseppe Conte was reportedly the only G7 leader to support Trump’s position. Conte announced his resignation earlier this week. Meanwhile, the US president, who views Russian interference in US elections as a joke, believes Putin should be in on the group’s discussions about Iran, Syria, and North Korea.
Despite White House concerns over Iran, however, the following morning US officials were “surprised” by Macron’s invitation to Iranian foreign minister Mohammad Javad Zarif. The French president’s intent to deescalate nuclear tensions in the Middle East were dismissed by Trump, who told reporters, “we’ll do our own outreach.”
As organizer of the summit, France arranged working meetings and a guest list to ensure success. Immediately upon Trump’s arrival, Macron took him off for a two-hour surprise lunch. Tending to Trump makes sense as last year the US leader unexpectedly left the G7 summit in Canada.
At least this time he stuck around.
Correction: An earlier version of this article incorrectly associated Giuseppe Conte with Italy’s far-right party the League, which is alleged to have received Russian funding.