Donald Trump stood alone at the G7 summit Friday, pushing back at intense efforts by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and fellow world leaders to persuade the U.S. President to back the 2015 Paris climate accord.
Mr. Trump and his Western allies were also struggling to find a common position on trade and protectionism but they did pledge to redouble their efforts to confront global terrorism in the wake of the bloody bombing in Manchester, Britain.
But on the touchy issue of the Paris emissions accord, the G7 leaders failed to make any headway with Mr. Trump, who had campaigned against the treaty signed by former U.S. president Barack Obama.
"There is one open question, which is the U.S. position on the Paris climate accords … All others have confirmed their total agreement on the accord," Italian Prime Minister Paolo Gentiloni told reporters. "We are sure that after an internal reflection, the United States will also want to commit to it."
Fresh off the U.S. President's abrasive scolding of North Atlantic Treaty Organization leaders for not spending enough on defence, Mr. Trump was in no mood for compromise when he sat down with Mr. Trudeau and the leaders of Britain, Italy, Germany, Japan and France in a Sicilian seaside tourist resort.
They not only clashed about climate change but there were tensions over free trade and the migration crisis at summit, known for its collaborative approach to solving major world problems.
"There is no doubt that this will be the most challenging G7 summit in years," European Union President Donald Tusk told a news conference. "It is no secret that the leaders meeting [Friday] sometimes have different positions on topics such as climate change and trade."
Mr. Trump told the gathering he needed more time to consider whether to follow through on his pledge to exit the Paris accord.
"His views are evolving," White House trade adviser Gary Cohn said. "He came here to learn. He came here to get smart."
But Mr. Cohn also said the Paris emission targets "would be highly crippling to U.S. economic growth."
British Prime Minister Theresa May said Mr. Trump was unmoved by arguments in favour of the Paris deal. He plans to make a decision on whether to withdraw when he returns to the United States.
"The United States is considering its position … but there was no doubt around the table about how important the issue on climate change is and we are all very clear about that and about how the Paris agreement plays in that," Ms. May said.
Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland said Mr. Trudeau pushed hard to convince the President that the Paris treaty should not be abandoned. But no matter what the U.S. does, Canada will stick with the accord.
"We believe climate change is one of the greatest threats facing Canadians and the world and it is a threat which is a global threat and which needs global solutions," Ms. Freeland told reporters.
On trade, the President, who campaigned on an anti-free-trade agenda, torpedoed the long-standing commitment of global powers to resist protectionism, forcing the G7 leaders to work on weaker language in Saturday's final communiqué.
"On the major theme of global trade, we are still working on the shape of the final communiqué, but it seems to me the direct discussions today have produced common positions that we can work on," the Italian Prime Minister said.
Mr. Trump wants a firm commitment to fair trade that benefits the U.S. in the final communiqué but the G7 countries want him to support a trade system in which World Trade Organization rules are honoured. "Canada believes very strongly in a rules-based trading order. We are a trading nation and we are also going to stand up for that," Ms. Freeland said.
Mr. Trudeau will meet the President on Saturday for what officials called a "pull aside" where he is expected to discuss U.S. plans to renegotiate the North American free-trade agreement.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel also complained to Mr. Trump for calling Germany "bad, very bad" during a meeting with European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker, saying it is flooding the U.S. market with cars.
Ms. Merkel told reporters she had pulled aside the President to say his criticism was "inappropriate."
Mr. Trump also resisted a proposal from Italy for the G7 to help shoulder the burden of African refugees arriving on Sicily's shores.
The White House budget includes big cuts to America's foreign aid and Mr. Trump has shown no inclination to take in more refugees. At the NATO summit, he blamed migrants for the terrorist threat facing Europe.
However, the leaders did sign a statement, deploring the deadly Manchester bombing and calling on Internet companies to do more to identify and remove extremist material.
The leaders will issue a final communiqué on Saturday, when they are expected to pledge unity in dealing with nuclear-armed North Korea and Russian aggression against Ukraine.
"Invading a country in Europe and annexing its territory is a very grave threat to the rule-based, postwar order here in Europe," Ms. Freeland said.
A senior Canadian government official expressed frustration at dealing with the White House, which didn't even send a designated top official to help work out the final communiqué.
Given the lack of consensus, the official said it is probable that the final document will be "rather short" compared with the 32-page one issued at last year's summit in Japan.
Canada will play host to next year's summit, which is expected to be held in Charlevoix, Que. The Prime Minister will make the official announcement at a wrap-up news conference on Saturday.