The Latest: G-7 first ladies taste wine, visit pepper mecca

Posted on Sunday, August 25th, 2019 By The Associated Press

G7 summit in Biarritz
Brigitte Macron, wife of French President Emmanuel Macron, left, U.S. First Lady Melania Trump, right, Chile's First Lady Cecilia Morel, second right, and Malgorzata Tusk, wife of European Council President Donald Tusk, pose in front of a bakery in the Basque village of Espelette, near Biarritz, southwestern France, Sunday Aug. 25, 2019. Leaders of major democracies are meeting to discuss the shaky world economy amid trade disputes, rising tensions with Iran and uncertainty over U.S. President Donald Trump's go-it-alone policies. (Regis Duvignau/Pool via AP)

BIARRITZ, France (AP) — The Latest on the Group of Seven leaders' summit (all times local):

12:50 p.m.

Melania Trump, Brigitte Macron and other world leaders' wives are visiting the home of a famed French red pepper and tasting Basque country wine on the sidelines of the G-7 summit.

The women are visiting the village of Espelette on Sunday, famed for its piment d'Espelette peppers. The peppers were used in the dinner that the Group of Seven leaders shared in nearby Biarritz on Saturday night.

The spouses will have lunch at the Villa Arnaga, built by the French playwright who wrote "Cyrano de Bergerac." The villa is also where separatists from Basque group ETA signed a peace accord last year after decades of sometimes violent activism in Spain and France.

The U.S. and French first ladies are joined by Akie Abe, wife of Japan's prime minister, Chile's first lady Cecilia Morel, Jenny Morrison, wife of Australia's prime minister, and Malgorzata Tusk, wife of the European Council president.

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12:45 p.m.

French President Emmanuel Macron is treading the line on negotiations among G-7 leaders over how to handle Iran, after U.S. President Donald Trump disputed his claim that they had agreed he could deliver a message to Iran on the leaders' behalf.

In an interview on LCI television just before Trump spoke, Macron said the leaders had agreed on what to say to Iran on their objectives. But Trump said he had agreed to nothing, and within a half-hour the French president's office released a new statement apparently trying to assuage Trump.

Macron said he would continue his efforts to de-escalate the situation around Iran as president of the G-7. "He will address a message to the Iranians on the basis of the exchanges in the G-7 format last night. Everyone will pursue their own outreach."

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12:10 p.m.

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson began his G-7 summit with a swim outside the rocky outcrop near the Hotel du Palais in the French resort of Biarritz.

Johnson, who is known more as a runner than a swimmer, took a dip in the Atlantic with Britain's ambassador to France.

French security officers, including one on a surfboard, accompanied the British leader as he swam around the rock. Johnson took the dip before an early morning breakfast meeting with U.S. President Donald Trump.

The beach is usually packed this time of year but is eerily empty this weekend because of heavy security for the Group of Seven summit with world leaders.

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12:05 p.m.

President Donald Trump is disputing statements by the French government that the Group of Seven nations agreed to empower French President Emmanuel Macron to send a message on behalf of the advanced democracies to Iran.

Asked if he signed onto the message, Trump told reporters, "I haven't discussed that."

The French presidency said earlier Sunday that the leaders of the G-7 countries agreed to allow French President Emmanuel Macron to address a message to Iran in their name and to hold talks with Iranian officials.

No details were provided on the message but the French presidency said the goal is to prevent Iran from getting nuclear weapons and avoid further escalating tensions in the Middle East.

Trump says during a bilateral meeting with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo that he's not stopping any leader from talking with Iran, noting Abe's recent outreach. He says: "If they want to talk, they can talk."

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11:50 a.m.

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, shaking the hand of French President Emmanuel Macron, congratulated him on his handling of a "difficult" discussion at the G-7 leaders' dinner the night before.

Before taking their seats around the negotiating table Sunday morning to discuss the world economy, the leaders chatted and exchanged greetings.

Johnson and Macron have sparred over Britain's plans to leave the European Union, but they were all smiles on Sunday. During a long handshake, Johnson told Macron "You did very well last night. My God, that was a difficult one."

He added, in French, "bien joué" - or "well played."

The leaders dined together Saturday to kick off a summit that has laid bare huge differences between longtime allies on a range of topics, from trade to climate change and how to save a deal on Iran's nuclear program.

The French presidency said they agreed to let Macron speak for the G-7 in a message to Iran.

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11:15 a.m.

Leaders of the G-7 countries agreed to allow French President Emmanuel Macron to address a message to Iran in their name.

The French presidency said Macron will hold talks with Iranian authorities on the basis of discussions at the Group of Seven summit informal dinner with U.S. President Donald Trump and other leaders on Saturday night in the French town of Biarritz.

No details were provided on the message but the French presidency said the goal is to prevent Iran from getting nuclear weapons and avoid further escalating tensions in the Middle East.

France holds the presidency of the Group of Seven rich democracies this year.

For several months, Macron has taken a lead role in trying to save the 2015 nuclear accord with Iran, which has been unraveling since Trump pulled the U.S. out of the agreement.

Macron met with Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif in Paris on Friday before heading to Biarritz for the summit.

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10:50 a.m.

Critics of French President Emmanuel Macron are marching near the G-7 summit he is hosting to demand he do more to protect French workers and the planet.

A mix of activists, some wearing yellow vests, carried portraits of Macron as they marched Sunday through the southwest city of Bayonne. Some held the portraits upside down.

The march came as Macron hosted U.S. President Donald Trump and other leaders of major democracies for talks Sunday in neighboring Biarritz on the shaky global economy.

The protesters are holding portraits in solidarity with environmental activists who removed official portraits of Macron from town halls around France earlier this year to protest his climate change policies.

Internationally, Macron is a vocal champion of fighting climate change, and has challenged Trump on the issue. At home in France, however, activists accuse him of lagging on promises to wean France from fossil fuels.

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10:35 a.m.

U.S. President Donald Trump and British Prime Minister Boris Johnson say they are talking about the way forward on a comprehensive trade agreement after Britain leaves the European Union.

In a joint statement Sunday after their first meeting, on the sidelines of the G-7 summit, the two said they would create a working group on trade issues. Johnson has complained about American restrictions on imports of food and other items.

The British prime minister is meeting later Sunday with European Council President Donald Tusk, whose welcome will be considerably less warm. The two are widely expected to discuss the bill for Brexit.

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9:45 a.m.

Leaders of the Group of Seven are arriving for a working meeting focused on looming threats to the global economy.

U.S. President Donald Trump and the leaders of the other G-7 countries, France, Britain, Italy, Japan, Germany, Canada as well as the European Union were expected to discuss the spread of trade disputes, notably the U.S. trade war with China.

Sunday's gathering in the French seaside resort of Biarritz comes on the heels of the first face-to-face meeting between Trump and British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who is hoping for a quick trade accord with the United States as Britain's exit from the European Union approaches.

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9:20 a.m.

U.S. President Donald Trump has offered British Prime Minister Boris Johnson a boost, saying he's the "right man" to deliver Brexit.

Speaking on the sidelines of the Group of Seven summit in France, Trump was asked what his advice was for Britain's departure from the European Union.

Trump responded: "He needs no advice. He is the right man for the job."

Johnson replied that the president was "on message there."

The much-anticipated meeting was the first since Johnson took Britain's top job last month. The pair met for a working breakfast on Sunday after being photographed on Saturday night walking and talking on the margins of the summit.

Johnson desperately needs a U.S. trade deal post-Brexit, as Britain will lose its easy access to the EU's single market.

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9:15 a.m.

Leaders of major world economies are meeting to discuss the shaky world economy amid trade disputes and uncertainty over U.S. President Donald Trump's policies.

Trump tried to play down tensions among Group of Seven leaders after they had dinner Saturday in the southwest French resort of Biarritz. He is worried that the global economic slowdown is spreading to the U.S. before next year's elections.

The G-7 leaders are meeting Sunday morning to focus on what they can do together to boost the economy. They include the heads of Britain, France, Germany, Japan, Canada and Italy.

Disputes on trade have unsettled the global economy because businesses don't know where tariffs will be imposed.

Anti-capitalist protesters also plan demonstrations Sunday after clashing with police near Biarritz on the summit's opening day Saturday.

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