US delays deciding to support or exit Paris climate accord

TAORMINA, Sicily (AP)—Seven wealthy democracies have reached a deal at their annual summit to give the Trump administration time to tell them whether the United States plans to stay in the Paris climate agreement, a source close to the summit said Saturday.

Six members of the Group of Seven would stick with their endorsement of the 2015 Paris deal to rein in greenhouse gas emissions and await a decision from the U.S., said the source who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss the matter before the formal announcement.

The source added that G-7 members were still wrestling over a statement on trade and whether it would condemn protectionism, as previous group statements have. The last G-7 meeting in Ise-Shima, Japan in 2016 agreed to “fight all forms of protectionism,” or the use of import taxes and regulations to favor domestic producers over imports.

U.S. President Donald Trump has pushed back against earlier such statements and has argued trade must be balanced and fair as well as free. His Treasury secretary, Steven Mnuchin, has said the United States reserves the right to be protectionist if trade arrangements are unfair to U.S. companies and workers.

The final language on trade was being discussed as leaders neared the end of the two-day meeting in the seaside town of Taormina, Sicily.

The group reached agreement on improving cooperation against terrorism in the wake of the bomb attack on a pop concert in Manchester, Britain, ahead of the summit.

The group was also discussing whether to stay with its previous position that it could increase sanctions against Russia over its conflict with Ukraine if Russian actions make that necessary.

The G-7 is an informal gathering that meets every year under a rotating chairmanship. Its decisions are not binding as an international treaty would be, and represent the leaders’ political commitment to carry through. The G-7 countries are: Canada, France, Italy, Japan, Germany, the United States and the UK. The European Union also attends.