The Latest: French, US officials talk tech tax at dinner

BIARRITZ, France (AP) — The Latest on the Group of Seven leaders’ summit (all times local):

9:30 p.m.

Taxes on tech giants and a French wine dispute are on the menu at a special dinner with top White House and French officials at the G-7 summit.

A French official says French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire invited U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, U.S. trade representative Robert Lightizer and White House economic advisor Larry Kudlow to dinner Sunday night in the French resort of Biarritz. U.S. President Donald Trump is dining with other world leaders nearby.

Le Maire wants to ease U.S. concerns about a 3% French tax on online companies that make significant revenues in France.

The Trump administration has lashed back by threatening retaliatory tariffs on French wine.

The French official, who was not authorized to be publicly named, insisted that the tax does not target American companies. It hits giants like Google, Amazon and Uber but also French, Chinese and other companies. The French goal is to stop tax avoidance by online multinationals, and France promises to scrap the tax if an international digital tax deal can be reached.


9:00 p.m.

A senior French official says French President Emmanuel Macron personally informed U.S. President Donald Trump that Iran’s chief diplomat was invited as G-7 leaders gathered for their summit.

The French official, who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss the sensitive discussions, would not say when or how Trump was informed of the surprise arrival Sunday of Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif.

The French president’s office confirmed Zarif left the seaside resort of Biarritz after a five-hour visit. The official said several other meetings on the touchy subject of Iran’s nuclear ambitions were planned before the end of the summit Monday afternoon.

Macron has taken a lead role in trying to save the 2015 nuclear accord, which has been unraveling since Trump pulled the U.S. out of the agreement.

Zarif met with Macron and French, German and British diplomats as well at an unprogrammed gathering in Biarritz’ city hall.

-Sylvie Corbet


8:20 p.m.

The secretary-general of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development says that a global attempt by more than 120 countries to find a way to more fairly tax global internet giants is moving ahead despite individual countries’ deciding to impose their own tax.

Angel Gurria said that “what we are seeing is a very strong and a very clear signal of wanting to find a multilateral solution.”

France introduced a 3 % tax on digital companies that may be headquartered elsewhere but do billions in digital business such as advertising and retail in France. It says it will drop the idea if there’s a solution in the OECD process, which aims for a result by the end of 2020.


8:00 p.m.

The plane of Iran’s foreign minister has left Biarritz, just a few hours after his surprise arrival to the French city where the G-7 leaders are gathered.

The departure came within minutes of a tweet sent out by Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif confirming he had met with French President Emmanuel Macron.

The French president’s office said the Iranian envoy was on board.

A senior French official said there would be several meetings regarding Iran’s disputed nuclear program before the summit ends on Monday.

Zarif’s arrival shook up the Group of Seven summit, where U.S. President Donald Trump is meeting with other world leaders.


7:45 p.m.

Chancellor Angela Merkel says Germany and others will talk with Brazil about reforestation in the Amazon once fires there have been extinguished.

Merkel said “of course (this is) Brazilian territory, but we have a question here of the rainforests that is really a global question; the lung of our whole Earth is affected, and so we must find common solutions.”

Merkel and French President Emmanuel Macron both spoke with Chile’s president at the Group of Seven summit in Biarritz, and Merkel said that they offered “our entire potential logistical and other help,” which will be organized for the European Union by Brussels. She noted that Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro is also putting “significant forces” into the fight against the rainforest fire.


7 p.m.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel says it’s worth taking every opportunity to avoid a further escalation of the standoff over Iran’s nuclear program, and that G-7 leaders had a “good, constructive discussion” on the subject Saturday evening.

Iran’s foreign minister made a previously unannounced visit Sunday to Biarritz, France, where the G-7 summit was taking place. He came at France’s invitation after a Saturday night discussion that Merkel said made clear all leaders agree that Iran must not get a nuclear weapon and that must be achieved by negotiations.

Merkel said Foreign Minister Mohammed Javad Zarif’s presence is “a parallel event in the same place, but not a G-7 movement, and now we must see whether the immediate communication of how the talks went yesterday produces further possibilities to speak and perhaps negotiate with Iran.”


6:15 p.m.

A European Union source is describing the leaders’ dinner at the Group of Seven as “quite tense” as leaders disagreed with U.S. President Donald Trump over issues including how to deal with Russia.

The person speaking on condition of anonymity due to lack of authorization to talk publicly said that Trump, who has proposed inviting Russia back to the G-7 summit, took the position that Russia was a major power that needed to be included in discussions.

Other participants said the G-7 was the wrong format since it is a group of democracies.

The difference from Saturday’s dinner carried over into Sunday’s session on trade with Trump favoring his tariff-backed push against China and others acknowledging China as a systemic problem but favoring a multilateral approach.

During a brief discussion of digital taxation, Trump did not repeat his threat to tax French wine in response to a French move to tax internet companies who do billions in business there but are taxed elsewhere, a move Trump has said is aimed at U.S. firms.

-David McHugh


4:55 p.m.

A top French official says French President Emmanuel Macron made the decision to invite Iran’s top diplomat to Biarritz after the dinner among G-7 leaders of the world’s major democracies.

The Saturday night dinner involved tense exchanges over how to deal with Iran’s nuclear ambitions since U.S. President Donald Trump withdrew from Tehran’s 2015 nuclear deal. Macron had met just Friday with Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif and decided to invite him to France again, this time to Biarritz.

The official did not rule out another meeting between Macron and Zarif, who was speaking Sunday with France’s foreign minister. Asked about a possible meeting between Trump and the Iranian, who faces U.S. sanctions, the official said, “not at this stage.” The official spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss the sensitive decision.

Likewise, U.S. Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin did not rule out anything, saying Trump had not “set preconditions” to negotiations with Iran.


4:15 p.m.

A senior French official says France invited Iran’s foreign minister to the venue of the G-7 summit to try to ease tensions over its nuclear program.

The official said the decision to invite Jawad Zarif on Sunday to the Group of Seven summit in Biarritz, France, came after the G-7 leaders, including U.S. President Donald Trump, gathered for dinner Saturday night.

Asked whether the White House was aware of the visit, the French official said “we operate on our own terms” but noted that Macron and Trump met for two hours yesterday and discussed Iran at length, as well as at the group dinner with other leaders.

The French official, who was not authorized to be named publicly, said that France considers it important to check in with Zarif to continue to bring positions closer together and de-escalate tensions.

The official said the Americans in Biarritz will not meet with Zarif, and that France “is working in full transparency with the U.S. and in full transparency with European partners.”

-Sylvie Corbet


3:50 p.m.

Iran’s Foreign Ministry spokesman says the Islamic Republic’s top diplomat has landed at the French city hosting the G-7 leaders’ summit, though he won’t be negotiating nor meeting with U.S. officials while there.

Abbas Mousavi wrote on Twitter on Sunday that Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif had arrived in Biarritz.

Mousavi made the announcement just after an Airbus A321 registered to the Iranian government landed there, fueling speculation Zarif could be on board.

This is a surprise trip by Zarif. He had only been known to be traveling in the coming days to Asia as part of his tour to get support for Iran amid the U.S. campaign against it since President Donald Trump withdrew America from Tehran’s 2015 nuclear deal with world powers.

Mousavi stressed in his tweet that “there will be no meetings or negotiations” with American officials during Zarif’s trip.


3:40 p.m.

An Airbus A321 registered to the Iranian government has landed in the French city where the ongoing G-7 leaders’ summit is happening.

According to the flight tracking site FlightRadar24, the Airbus left Tehran and landed Sunday afternoon at the Biarritz airport, which has been closed to all air traffic except that linked to the summit of the Group of Seven, which includes U.S. President Donald Trump. The incoming flight has raised speculation a senior official could be on board.

This plane previously flew Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif on his recent trip to Europe.

However, Zarif is only known to have plans to travel to Asia in the coming days.

There was no immediate word from Iranian state media.


2:15 p.m.

U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson has acknowledged that the prospect of a Brexit deal is “touch and go,” as other European Union governments grasp the problems Britain has with the withdrawal agreement.

Johnson told the BBC on the sidelines of the Group of Seven summit in France that in the last few days “there has been a dawning realization in Brussels and other European capitals what the shape of the problem is for the U.K.”

The British parliament has three times rejected a Brexit deal that Johnson’s predecessor, Theresa May, had agreed upon with the EU. Among the key issues is how to prevent the return of a border between EU member Ireland and Britain’s Northern Ireland.

Johnson said: “I think it’s going to be touch and go but the important thing is to get ready to come out without a deal.”


1:55 p.m.

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson and European Council President Donald Turk sought out a bit of common ground during a meeting at the Group of Seven summit, the day after a testy exchange about Britain’s pending exit from the European Union.

The long-running tensions over Britain’s departure from the EU got more personal on Saturday. Johnson and Tusk each suggested that the other is bent on scuttling the chances that the U.K. will break away from the single market of 500 million people with an agreement.

But on Sunday, the exchange was a bit friendlier. Johnson said he and Tusk largely agreed on the world’s major issues, regardless of whether there is a deal on Brexit.

Tusk agreed Britain and Europe would remain close regardless of what happens at the Oct. 31 deadline.


1:50 p.m.

French President Emmanuel Macron says leaders of the world’s major democracies are nearing an agreement on how to help fight the fires burning in the Amazon and repair the damage.

He said they were trying to come up with appropriate mechanisms, both technical and financial. He thrust the Amazon fires to the top of the agenda of the G-7 summit after declaring it a global emergency and threatening to torpedo a trade deal with Brazil and other South American countries.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel has come down against blocking the so-called Mercosur trade accord but said she was in favor of treating the Amazon fires as an urgent threat. France claims a small part of the Amazon in its overseas department of French Guiana.


1:45 p.m.

Anti-capitalist protesters have canceled demonstrations planned outside the G-7 summit in southwest France after one of their leaders was among dozens detained in skirmishes with police.

Alexis Chaussalet of activist group Attac said further actions Sunday are postponed because “conditions are not met” to demonstrate peacefully.

Police have locked down the area around the Group of Seven summit in Biarritz, and detained 68 people at a protest Saturday accused of throwing projectiles and other disruptions.

Local authorities said no one was injured but Chaussalet said dozens of demonstrators were hurt. He also said a protest leader who had been central to negotiations with local authorities to ensure peaceful demonstrations was arrested overnight.

The Group of Seven leaders are discussing economic inequality at their lunch Sunday, in a luxury resort on the Atlantic coast, prepared by a Michelin-starred chef.


1:35 p.m.

French President Emmanuel Macron says France is ready to give up its tax on the digital services of tech companies as soon as there is a global agreement on how to tax internet giants such as Facebook and Google.

U.S. President Donald Trump has threatened tariffs on French wines in retaliation for the tax, which he says unfairly targets American companies. The tax is among the major focuses of this year’s G-7 summit of the leaders of major democracies.

Macron told reporters Sunday: “I said very clearly to Trump yesterday that if we can come to an agreement together in the framework of the OECD (Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development), we don’t need to keep our tax.”

Britain has proposed a similar tax.


1:15 p.m.

French President Emmanuel Macron says he has no formal mandate to speak for the G-7 leaders in delivering a message to Iran, but said he would be able to address the issue in the context of what they agreed to during a dinner.

His comments came after U.S. President Donald Trump denied agreeing to anything regarding how to negotiate with Iran. Macron described the dinner as “an informal discussion, free, intense, extremely long” that touched especially on the fires in the Amazon, the Ukrainian crisis and Russia.

He said Trump is the president of the “world’s number one power” who has to defend his voters’ interest, and had made his views on Iran and other subjects quite clear. Macron is walking a fine line as the host of this year’s G-7 summit of major democracies, which is focused on the threat of a global recession, climate change and other major issues.


12:50 p.m.

Melania Trump, Brigitte Macron and other world leaders’ wives are visiting the home of a famed French red pepper and tasting Basque country wine on the sidelines of the G-7 summit.

The women are visiting the village of Espelette on Sunday, famed for its piment d’Espelette peppers. The peppers were used in the dinner that the Group of Seven leaders shared in nearby Biarritz on Saturday night.

The spouses will have lunch at the Villa Arnaga, built by the French playwright who wrote “Cyrano de Bergerac.” The villa is also where separatists from Basque group ETA signed a peace accord last year after decades of sometimes violent activism in Spain and France.

The U.S. and French first ladies are joined by Akie Abe, wife of Japan’s prime minister, Chile’s first lady Cecilia Morel, Jenny Morrison, wife of Australia’s prime minister, and Malgorzata Tusk, wife of the European Council president.


12:45 p.m.

French President Emmanuel Macron is treading the line on negotiations among G-7 leaders over how to handle Iran, after U.S. President Donald Trump disputed his claim that they had agreed he could deliver a message to Iran on the leaders’ behalf.

In an interview on LCI television just before Trump spoke, Macron said the leaders had agreed on what to say to Iran on their objectives. But Trump said he had agreed to nothing, and within a half-hour the French president’s office released a new statement apparently trying to assuage Trump.

Macron said he would continue his efforts to de-escalate the situation around Iran as president of the G-7. “He will address a message to the Iranians on the basis of the exchanges in the G-7 format last night. Everyone will pursue their own outreach.”


12:10 p.m.

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson began his G-7 summit with a swim outside the rocky outcrop near the Hotel du Palais in the French resort of Biarritz.

Johnson, who is known more as a runner than a swimmer, took a dip in the Atlantic with Britain’s ambassador to France.

French security officers, including one on a surfboard, accompanied the British leader as he swam around the rock. Johnson took the dip before an early morning breakfast meeting with U.S. President Donald Trump.

The beach is usually packed this time of year but is eerily empty this weekend because of heavy security for the Group of Seven summit with world leaders.


12:05 p.m.

President Donald Trump is disputing statements by the French government that the Group of Seven nations agreed to empower French President Emmanuel Macron to send a message on behalf of the advanced democracies to Iran.

Asked if he signed onto the message, Trump told reporters, “I haven’t discussed that.”

The French presidency said earlier Sunday that the leaders of the G-7 countries agreed to allow French President Emmanuel Macron to address a message to Iran in their name and to hold talks with Iranian officials.

No details were provided on the message but the French presidency said the goal is to prevent Iran from getting nuclear weapons and avoid further escalating tensions in the Middle East.

Trump says during a bilateral meeting with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo that he’s not stopping any leader from talking with Iran, noting Abe’s recent outreach. He says: “If they want to talk, they can talk.”


11:50 a.m.

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, shaking the hand of French President Emmanuel Macron, congratulated him on his handling of a “difficult” discussion at the G-7 leaders’ dinner the night before.

Before taking their seats around the negotiating table Sunday morning to discuss the world economy, the leaders chatted and exchanged greetings.

Johnson and Macron have sparred over Britain’s plans to leave the European Union, but they were all smiles on Sunday. During a long handshake, Johnson told Macron “You did very well last night. My God, that was a difficult one.”

He added, in French, “bien joué" - or “well played.”

The leaders dined together Saturday to kick off a summit that has laid bare huge differences between longtime allies on a range of topics, from trade to climate change and how to save a deal on Iran’s nuclear program.

The French presidency said they agreed to let Macron speak for the G-7 in a message to Iran.


11:15 a.m.

Leaders of the G-7 countries agreed to allow French President Emmanuel Macron to address a message to Iran in their name.

The French presidency said Macron will hold talks with Iranian authorities on the basis of discussions at the Group of Seven summit informal dinner with U.S. President Donald Trump and other leaders on Saturday night in the French town of Biarritz.

No details were provided on the message but the French presidency said the goal is to prevent Iran from getting nuclear weapons and avoid further escalating tensions in the Middle East.

France holds the presidency of the Group of Seven rich democracies this year.

For several months, Macron has taken a lead role in trying to save the 2015 nuclear accord with Iran, which has been unraveling since Trump pulled the U.S. out of the agreement.

Macron met with Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif in Paris on Friday before heading to Biarritz for the summit.


10:50 a.m.

Critics of French President Emmanuel Macron are marching near the G-7 summit he is hosting to demand he do more to protect French workers and the planet.

A mix of activists, some wearing yellow vests, carried portraits of Macron as they marched Sunday through the southwest city of Bayonne. Some held the portraits upside down.

The march came as Macron hosted U.S. President Donald Trump and other leaders of major democracies for talks Sunday in neighboring Biarritz on the shaky global economy.

The protesters are holding portraits in solidarity with environmental activists who removed official portraits of Macron from town halls around France earlier this year to protest his climate change policies.

Internationally, Macron is a vocal champion of fighting climate change, and has challenged Trump on the issue. At home in France, however, activists accuse him of lagging on promises to wean France from fossil fuels.


10:35 a.m.

U.S. President Donald Trump and British Prime Minister Boris Johnson say they are talking about the way forward on a comprehensive trade agreement after Britain leaves the European Union.

In a joint statement Sunday after their first meeting, on the sidelines of the G-7 summit, the two said they would create a working group on trade issues. Johnson has complained about American restrictions on imports of food and other items.

The British prime minister is meeting later Sunday with European Council President Donald Tusk, whose welcome will be considerably less warm. The two are widely expected to discuss the bill for Brexit.


9:45 a.m.

Leaders of the Group of Seven are arriving for a working meeting focused on looming threats to the global economy.

U.S. President Donald Trump and the leaders of the other G-7 countries, France, Britain, Italy, Japan, Germany, Canada as well as the European Union were expected to discuss the spread of trade disputes, notably the U.S. trade war with China.

Sunday’s gathering in the French seaside resort of Biarritz comes on the heels of the first face-to-face meeting between Trump and British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who is hoping for a quick trade accord with the United States as Britain’s exit from the European Union approaches.


9:20 a.m.

U.S. President Donald Trump has offered British Prime Minister Boris Johnson a boost, saying he’s the “right man” to deliver Brexit.

Speaking on the sidelines of the Group of Seven summit in France, Trump was asked what his advice was for Britain’s departure from the European Union.

Trump responded: “He needs no advice. He is the right man for the job.”

Johnson replied that the president was “on message there.”

The much-anticipated meeting was the first since Johnson took Britain’s top job last month. The pair met for a working breakfast on Sunday after being photographed on Saturday night walking and talking on the margins of the summit.

Johnson desperately needs a U.S. trade deal post-Brexit, as Britain will lose its easy access to the EU’s single market.


9:15 a.m.

Leaders of major world economies are meeting to discuss the shaky world economy amid trade disputes and uncertainty over U.S. President Donald Trump’s policies.

Trump tried to play down tensions among Group of Seven leaders after they had dinner Saturday in the southwest French resort of Biarritz. He is worried that the global economic slowdown is spreading to the U.S. before next year’s elections.

The G-7 leaders are meeting Sunday morning to focus on what they can do together to boost the economy. They include the heads of Britain, France, Germany, Japan, Canada and Italy.

Disputes on trade have unsettled the global economy because businesses don’t know where tariffs will be imposed.

Anti-capitalist protesters also plan demonstrations Sunday after clashing with police near Biarritz on the summit’s opening day Saturday.