President Trump attends G-7 meetings in Italy

PHOTO: President Donald Trump looks on upon his arrival at EU headquarters ahead of a meeting with European Council President, as part of the NATO meeting, in Brussels, May 25, 2017.PlayEmanuel Dunand/AFP/Getty Images
WATCH President Trump attends G-7 meetings in Italy

President Donald Trump continued his marathon of meetings with world leaders Friday on the fifth stop of his overseas trip in Taormina, Italy, where he is attending his first Group of Seven summit.

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The annual meeting convenes the leaders of the United States, Germany, France, the United Kingdom, Japan, Italy and Canada to discuss and promote solutions for major world issues.

Ahead of his meeting with G-7 leaders Friday morning, Trump met with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to discuss North Korea, among other issues.

"It's a big problem, it's a world problem," the president said. "It will be solved at some point. It will be solved, you can bet on that.”

Abe, who joined Trump at Mar-a-Lago in February, joked about playing golf.

“There is one unfortunate thing I have to confess, this time around we will not be able to play golf together,” said Abe.

But in contrast to the collaborative and at times even playful demeanor leaders would assume during the eight years President Barack Obama was in office, Trump's emergence so far on the diplomatic circuit has shown his willingness to use the meetings to confront world leaders and openly express his grievances.

Trump's speech at the opening of a new NATO memorial Thursday aimed to publicly call out countries who may not have paid their full share in recent years. It also rattled some diplomatic experts over the president's decision to not explicitly express the U.S. commitment to NATO's Article 5 collective defense treaty.

A key issue expected to be on the summit's agenda is the U.S.'s possible withdrawal from the Paris climate accord — which Trump has said he is considering and which several leaders of other G-7 countries said could significantly undermine global efforts to combat climate change.

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson told reporters aboard Air Force One on Wednesday that the president would decide whether to exit the treaty upon his return to the U.S.

The administration further revealed Friday that it does not plan to lower sanctions on Russia, but could instead look to get tougher on the country.

Gary Cohn, Trump's chief economic adviser, said yesterday that the U.S. doesn't have a position on the subject, leading to speculation that lifting sanctions might be on the table, but has since sought to clarify the White House's position.

“We are not lowering our sanctions on Russia," Cohn told a pool of reporters. "If anything, we would probably look to get tougher on Russia, so the president wants to continue to keep the sanctions in place."

The new administration's position on sanctions against Russia, particularly those imposed in 2014 over Crimea, has been a source of concern among European leaders.

Also under the microscope during Trump's meetings have been his body language and interactions with other heads of government. In particular, reporters and social media have pointed out his lengthy handshake with newly elected French President Emmanuel Macron, his alleged shove to move in front of Montenegro Prime Minister Dusko Markovic and his face to face with U.K. Prime Minister Theresa May, who expressed dismay over an alleged U.S. leak of British intel from the investigation into the Manchester bombing.

In the evening after the meetings, Trump and the first lady attended a G-7 concert by La Scala Philharmonic Orchestra before the leaders and their spouses sat down for dinner.