President Donald Trump just attended the G20 Summit. Instead of being able to set the tone and agenda, the president pushed the country in a club of one.
Trump’s approach to foreign affairs is severely damaging the country’s image as the United States stood as an alien at the summit because of withdrawal from the Paris Climate Accord. Trump’s “America First” approach seems to have isolated the United States.
“In the end, the negotiations on climate reflect dissent – all against the United States of America. And the fact that negotiations on trade were extraordinarily difficult is due to specific positions that the United States has taken," Merkel told reporters at the end of the meeting.
British Prime Minister Theresa May said, “Like other world leaders here, I am dismayed at the U.S. decision to pull out of the Paris agreement and I've urged President Trump to rejoin the Paris agreement."
During the summit, Trumps’ daughter and adviser, Ivanka Trump, caused a furor as she took his place at the table of world leaders. Critics likened the behavior to that of dictatorships and banana republics, not democracies.
Another important point at the summit was the hotly anticipated meeting of Trump with Russian President Vladimir Putin. U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, and translators were the only ones allowed at the closed door meeting.
Following the meeting, there were conflicting reports as Tillerson said the president pressed Putin on the issue of election interference. According to Russia's foreign minister, Trump played down the allegations privately. In a press conference later, Putin also claimed that Trump believed his denials.
The president also broke the tradition of giving a speech at the end of the summit. German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Russian President Vladimir Putin and French President Emmanuel Macron gave their take on the developments with no push-back from the U.S. side.
Following Trump’s repeated criticism of the trade imbalance between Washington and Berlin, there is also frustration in Germany and in Europe more generally.