Overnight, this serene town on the Sicilian coast turned into a nest of powerhouse international diplomacy. It’s here where President Donald Trump and his counterparts from six of the world’s most powerful countries have gathered for a two-day summit — the G-7 — to discuss the globe’s most pressing problems.
The discussions between the leaders of Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the United Kingdom and the United States over the next two days will span from global economic issues and the Syrian civil war to Russian aggression and the fight against ISIS. It will allow new leaders — from Trump to newly elected French President Emmanuel Macron — and veterans — like German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe — the chance to shape global events.
Trump has made clear that defeating the terrorist group is a top priority for his administration and in his first five months in office Trump has sought to ramp up the fight against ISIS. At the start of his foreign trip, Trump spoke in Saudi Arabia about the need for Muslim countries in the region to redouble their efforts to fight Islamist terrorism. He is likely to urge his G-7 counterparts to dig deeper in the fight against ISIS as well — particularly in fighting terrorism financing.
The terrorist attack in Manchester, England, this week that killed 22 people is sure to drive the discussion on counterterrorism efforts.
But while Trump’s European counterparts have shown an increasing willingness to devote more resources toward counterterrorism efforts, several of those leaders are likely to deviate with Trump’s hardline approach to combating terrorism.
Trump has tried to enact a full stop on refugees entering the United States and sought to bar citizens of six Muslim-majority countries — a move currently blocked by court — while other leaders, like Germany’s Merkel, have sought to keep their doors open to asylum-seekers fleeing conflict, including those from Syria.
Those diverging approaches to terrorism will be on full display during the two-day summit.
The global economy is always a core topic of the G-7 summit, but Trump’s presidency and the United Kingdom’s referendum vote to leave the European Union have already moved markets and have brought new uncertainty.
Trump has vowed to renegotiate reams of international trade agreements, railing against free trade deals that he has said are lopsided against the United States. Other leaders will look to ensure their economies won’t suffer as a result of Trump’s new approach.
The G-7 countries are also bracing for the United Kingdom’s upcoming exit from the European Union, which — depending on the terms of its exit — could rock the world economy.
International efforts to bring an end to the six years of civil war in Syria and transition Syrian President Bashar al-Assad out of power have failed amid Russian and Iranian support for the authoritarian regime.
Despite expressing a reticence to deepen the US’ involvement in the conflict, particularly toward Assad, Trump last month approved the first US strikes against the Syrian regime after the government launched a chemical attack against civilians.
But it’s unclear how his administration will tackle diplomatic efforts to resolve the conflict and whether he will bring any fresh approaches to the table.