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article imageUS Treasury chief downplays discord at G7 finance meet

By AFP     Jun 2, 2018 in World

US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin on Saturday reaffirmed Washington's commitment to the Group of Seven advanced economies, downplaying the discord that upended the agenda for talks at a ministerial meeting this week.

Mnuchin's remarks came moments after Canadian, German and French ministers denounced US President Donald Trump's decision to impose punishing steel and aluminum tariffs this week, describing frustration with a perceived attack on longstanding allies.

"These are our most important allies or some of our most important allies. We've had long-standing relationships with all these countries that are very important across all different aspects," Mnuchin told reporters at the meeting's close.

"I believe there was a comment out there that this was the G6 plus one. It was not. This was the G7. We believe in the G7."

Normally a forum for consensus building among countries accounting for half the world's GDP, the meetings in the crisp mountain air at this Canadian resort north of Vancouver were electrified with discontent.

Successive central bankers and finance ministers spoke of betrayal and astonishment, describing the metals tariffs as "unjustified," "unacceptable," "dangerous" and a "gun to the head."

Amid the disagreements, there was no final joint statement, but Canadian Finance Minister Bill Morneau announced that the meeting had ended amid "unanimous concern and disappointment," which all other participants asked Mnuchin to convey back to Washington.

Mnuchin said however that trade was only of many subjects on the agenda, including crypto-currencies, taxation, Iranian nuclear sanctions and the forthcoming summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.

"We have important security and foreign policy relationships and although again there were discussions on trade, there were many, many areas that not only we agree on, we were completely united on," he said.

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