PARIS — French President Emmanuel Macron is seeking to take the lead of the European brigade against U.S. President Donald Trump at the summit of the Group of Seven wealthy countries in Canada.
Macron called a meeting Friday with German Chancellor Angela Merkel, British Prime Minister Theresa May, new Italian Premier Giuseppe Conte and top EU officials just before the G-7 opening.
He told reporters the United States' attitude must lead other nations to "reforge the European front."
European leaders criticize the U.S. decision to impose protectionist tariffs on steel and aluminum and to exit the Iran nuclear deal and the Paris climate agreement.
Tweeting in English, Macron stressed: "No leader is eternal. We inherit commitments which are beyond us. We take them on. That is the life of nations."
Macron launched the offensive on Thursday at a joint news conference with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.
Adopting an unusually sharp tone about one of France's closest allies, Macron rejected the idea of an American "hegemony".
"The other countries of the G-6 are a larger market than the American market," Macron said. "Maybe it doesn't bother the American president to be isolated, but it doesn't bother us to be six if need be."
European Council President Donald Tusk, who will attend the meeting of EU leaders, said in the New York Times this week "Europe must now do everything in its power to protect the trans-Atlantic bond, in spite of today's mood. But at the same time we must be prepared for scenarios in which we will have to act on our own."
Macron's initiative comes six weeks after Macron and Trump exhibited their friendship at a state visit in Washington — with exaggerated handshakes and a pair of kisses.
The two leaders talked on the phone last week after Trump announced U.S. tariffs on European goods. Macron declined to disclose details of the discussion after an unnamed source told CNN television it went badly.
He instead repeated the famous line attributed to 19th-century German statesman Otto von Bismarck about laws and sausages: "It's best not to see them being made."
And he promised a "frank and direct discussion" with Trump in Canada.