The German Chancellor called FOR the summit Russia - USA

White House officials did not immediately respond to requests for comment on the characterisations by these officials of Trump's remarks or attention to the presentations.

Ahead of Trump's arrival, French President Emmanuel Macron tweeted suggesting the global Group of Seven could issue a communique at the end of the summit that leaves out the United States.

Asked whether Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's team was engaged in frantic damage control, a Canadian government official said it was always clear there would be disagreements at the summit over trade and relations with Russian Federation.

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said his country "will not be pushed around on trade matters." and called USA tariffs on Canadian steel and aluminum "insulting".

In recent weeks, trading partners of the U.S. have criticised new tariffs on steel and aluminium imports imposed by the Trump administration.

Canada, in particular, has taken offense at the notion that the steel tariffs are justified on the basis of national security concerns.

The proposal, made during the two-day Group of Seven nations summit in La Malbaie, Quebec, was strongly supported by other leaders present, the official said, adding that European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker said he was ready to invest personally in it. Juncker has also offered to visit Washington for a common assessment of EU-US trade to help resolve the dispute, an official said. The noise of Trump's helicopter landing was so loud they had to stop talking for a while, in a scene one official compared to the opening from the USA television series M.A.S.H.

Despite smiles and jokes for the cameras, the tension among the leaders was clear. I'm always the optimist.

"I think on trade there is path, but there is a way to progress all together", he told reporters.

In the past, the USA has had low points with Europe. Some countries have retaliated with their own levies on USA imports. At the time there was even a symbolic call by critics to change french fries to "freedom fries" in the United States. If you look at what Canada, and Mexico, the European Union - all of them - have been doing to us for many, many decades. "That's really what's in question today".

Many saw a distillation of a crisis of the West in the photograph, and a revival of the debate launched by USA and British media after Trump's 2016 election whether Merkel was the new "leader of the free world".

Investors are also concerned about the future of the North American Free Trade Agreement, which Trump has threatened to terminate.

Vanessa Coleman