- Associated Press - Friday, May 26, 2017

TAORMINA, Italy (AP) - The Latest on President Donald Trump’s first trip abroad (all times local):

9:30 p.m.

President Donald Trump is blaming “evil organizations of terror” and a “thuggish ideology” for an attack on Coptic Christians in Egypt that killed at least 28 people, including children.

In a strongly worded statement, Trump refers to the “merciless slaughter of Christians” and says a “wound is inflicted upon humanity” every time innocent blood is spilled.

He says Friday’s attack on a bus taking the worshippers to a monastery south of Cairo should bring nations together to crush “evil organizations of terror.”

Trump adds that the U.S. stands with the Egyptian people in the fight against terrorism.


7:15 p.m.

President Donald Trump and German Chancellor Angela Merkel have met on the heels of Trump criticizing the Germans on trade.

Trump and Merkel met on the sidelines of a summit in Sicily on Friday, a day after Trump reportedly said Germany was “bad” for having a large trade surplus with the United States.

Gary Cohn, director of Trump’s National Economic Council, disputed that the president said Germany was “bad.” Cohn asserted that the president was misquoted, but he did say that Trump was critical of the trade deficit.

Cohn also said Trump was aware that Germany cannot unilaterally adjust its trade deals with the United States because Germany’s deals are dictated by its membership in the European Union.


7:10 p.m.

A top White House official says President Donald Trump’s views on climate change are “evolving” as he discusses the Paris climate accord with European leaders.

Economic adviser Gary Cohn says Trump discussed the Paris deal during a meeting with G-7 leaders on Friday. He says Trump “feels much more knowledgeable” on the topic than he did previously.

The president has been under pressure from European leaders to stay in the Paris accord, which was agreed to in 2015. Trump has been critical of the deal, but has not made a decision on whether to withdraw.

Cohn says Trump told the G-7 leaders that the environment is “very, very important” to him and mentioned environmental awards he has received.


6:55 p.m.

A top White House adviser says President Donald Trump is not considering easing sanctions on Russia.

Gary Cohn initially told reporters Thursday night that Trump didn’t currently have a position on the sanctions and was “looking at” options.

On Friday, he said more definitively that the White House is “not lowering our sanctions on Russia.” Cohn said, “if anything, we are probably looking to get tougher on Russia.”

Trump has set European leaders on edge with his interest in forging closer ties with Russian President Vladimir Putin. Russia was kicked out of what was then the Group of 8 summit after it annexed territory from Ukraine.


5:50 p.m.

President Donald Trump is wishing Muslims around the world a “joyful” Ramadan.

The president is commemorating the sunset Friday start of the holiest month in Islam by noting that the spirit of Ramadan “strengthens awareness of our shared obligation to reject violence, to pursue peace, and to give to those in need who are suffering from poverty or conflict.”

Trump’s statement comes nearly a week after he kicked off his maiden overseas tour in Saudi Arabia.

He notes efforts by both the U.S. and Muslim nations to partner for peace, security and prosperity.

Trump asks that countries “spare no measure so that we may ensure that future generations will be free of this scourge and able to worship and commune in peace.”


5:45 p.m.

Melania Trump’s first outing in the Sicilian sunshine was in a colorful floral applique jacket by Dolce & Gabbana that comes off the rack at $51,000.

Mrs. Trump also carried a matching clutch to lunch with the other spouses of G7 leaders at the historic Elephants Palace hosted by Catania’s mayor.

The color burst comes after a steady wardrobe of mostly black during President Donald Trump’s overseas tour, including a prim black lace dress with a matching mantilla head cover that she wore to meet Pope Francis, and a dark jacket with golden detailing on the cuff and collar that she wore for her arrival in Italy.

All were created by Milan designers Domenico Dolce & Stefano Gabbana, and Gabbana has celebrated each appearance with Instagram posts.

Gabbana shared three photos of the floral jacket, worn over a simple white shift dress, with the U.S. first lady appearing model perfect stepping out of an SUV. Gabbana tagged the photo with hearts and a “Thank You” to @flotus #melaniatrump.

Dolce & Gabbana have made Sicily their fashion muse, so it makes sense that she would turn to them also in Sicily.


5:15 p.m.

Former U.S. House Speaker John Boehner says President Donald Trump’s time in office has been a “complete disaster” - except for foreign policy.

Speaking at an energy conference in Houston on Thursday, Boehner praised Trump for his approach abroad and for being aggressive about fighting Islamic State militants. That’s according to the energy publication Rigzone.

But Boehner said that everything else Trump has done in office has been a complete disaster. He says Trump is still learning how to be president.

The former House speaker said he’s been friends with Trump for 15 years, but still has a hard time seeing him as president.

He also says Trump shouldn’t be allowed to tweet overnight.

David Schnittger, a spokesman for Boehner, confirmed the comments.


3:54 p.m.

One is more than 20 years older than her husband. The other is more than 20 years younger than hers. One dressed casually in white jeans, a red sweater and wedged Espadrilles, while the other wore a floral applique designer jacket over a white dress and matching floral clutch.

Brigitte Macron and Melania Trump both cut elegant figures in their own, distinctive styles during events for spouses on the sidelines of the G-7 summit in Taormina, Sicily.

The women greeting each other warmly when they met Friday at Catania’s City Hall. Their husbands had shared a firm handshake when they met the day before.

The spouses were invited for an Italian aperitivo and lunch at the historic Elephants Palace that houses the city administration. The guests included German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s husband, Joachim Sauer, who rarely joins his wife abroad, Shinzo Abe’s wife, Akie Abe, and Italian host Paolo Gentiloni’s wife, Emanuela Mauro.

Some of the spouses got a helicopter’s eye view of Mount Etna, an active volcano near Catania, on their way from Taormina, but not Mrs. Trump, who arrived separately in her own minivan.

She also skipped a tour of a Baroque Benedictine monastery.


3:30 p.m.

President Donald Trump and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe have agreed to “enhance” sanctions on North Korea, including targeting entities that support North Korea’s ballistic missile and nuclear programs.

That’s according to a White House readout of the pair’s meeting Friday ahead of the G-7 summit of wealthy nations.

U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson recently told a U.N. gathering that the U.S. would not hesitate to sanction other countries that support the North’s illegal activities.

Trump and Abe also discussed counter-terror efforts in the wake of the Manchester concert attack.

Trump told reporters at the top of the meeting that North Korea is “a world problem” that “will be solved.”


2:57 p.m.

Leaders attending the Group of Seven summit were cheered and greeted by local residents in the hilltop Sicilian town of Taormina - a rarity for global summits where ordinary people are usually kept at long distances for security reasons.

Crowds lined the route as President Donald Trump and the other six G-7 leaders made their way from Taormina’s famed ancient Greek theater to the five-star San Domenico Palace, where they were meeting, about a kilometer away. The leaders made a brief stop along the way to take in a breathtaking view of the sea below.

While most of the public was barred from entering a security red zone, residents of Taormina, a town of 11,000, were given credentials to wear around their necks giving them access to the leaders on their arrival.

There was a man who toted his groceries through the crowd, and two little girls in white T-shirts waving at the leaders as they passed.

Security precautions increased after clashes at the Genoa summit 16 years ago left one protester dead.


2:13 p.m.

Germany is rejecting a U.S. official’s assertion that efforts to combat climate change will harm economic growth.

White House economic adviser Gary Cohn told reporters on the flight to Sicily Thursday that, if it comes to a choice between measures to curtail global warming under the 2015 Paris climate accord and growing the U.S. economy, economic considerations would prevail.

He said, “If those things collide, growing our economy is going to win. “

Asked about the comments Friday, a spokesman for Germany’s environment ministry said “we expressly don’t share the view that protecting the climate harms economic growth.”

Nikolai Fichtner said Germany sees protecting the climate as “a modernization program” for national economies.” He said, “the key question is whether one is part of this early on or not.”

He also said Germany is lobbying “at all levels right now” for the U.S. to remain part of the Paris agreement.


1:50 p.m.

A German government spokesman says trade surpluses like the one that’s provoking Donald Trump’s ire are the result of market factors and are “neither good nor bad.”

Spokesman Georg Streiter didn’t comment directly on a report that Trump called Germany “bad, very bad” on trade because of German companies’ success selling goods such as cars in the U.S.

Streiter said in Berlin that Germany’s current account surplus - the broadest measure of trade and investment flows - reflects economic factors that the German government can’t directly do anything about.

He said it was “also caused by factors that cannot, or at least cannot directly, be influenced by economic or financial policy measures in Germany,” including the price of oil price, the euro exchange rate and “structural factors such as demographic developments.”


1:44 p.m.

President Donald Trump is praising the Republican who won Montana’s special House race Thursday for his “Great win in Montana.”

Republican Greg Gianforte won his race despite having been charged with misdemeanor assault after allegedly slamming a reporter to the ground.

Guardian reporter Ben Jacobs said Gianforte “body slammed” him and broke his glasses at a Wednesday event/

Trump offered his comments during the G-7 summit it Sicily Friday.

Gianforte will fill the seat once held by Trump’s Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke.


12:52 p.m.

Comments by President Trump on Germany’s trade surplus with the United States are getting attention as leaders of seven wealthy democracies gather for difficult talks on trade and climate change.

Germany’s Der Spiegel reported that Trump told European Union leaders in Brussels Thursday that Germans are “bad, very bad” on trade ahead of the Group of Seven summit in Taormina, Sicily. Trump was also quoted saying he wanted to reduce Germans car sales in the U.S.

White House economic adviser Gary Cohn said Friday that Trump did say Germans are “very bad on trade but he doesn’t have a problem with Germany.” He noted that Trump’s father was born in Germany and said Trump had told the leaders, “I don’t have a problem Germany, I have a problem with German trade.”

European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker said the report was “exaggerated” and that Trump was “not aggressive” in his comments.


12:15 p.m.

President Donald Trump says on Twitter that he’s getting “ready to engage” his fellow G-7 leaders “on many issues including economic growth, terrorism, and security.”

Trump offered two messages shortly after arriving at the G-7 summit of wealthy nations being held in the coastal city of Taormina, Sicily.

He’s also touting his trip so far, describing it as “very successful.” He says, “We made and saved the USA many billions of dollars and millions of jobs.”

Trump is on the final stop of his first foreign trip, which has taken him to Saudi Arabia, Israel, the Vatican, Brussels and Italy.


12:05 p.m.

President Donald Trump has arrived at his first G-7 summit in Italy.

Trump walked into an ancient Greek theater, shook hands with Italian Prime Minister Paolo Gentiloni and made a little small talk with his fellow heads of state as they posed for a group photo in Taormina, Sicily.

The dramatic destination overlooks the Ionian Sea.

Trump then hopped in a golf cart for a short ride through the narrow streets of the hilltop town en route to a set of meetings, saying “Hello, everybody” to onlookers as he drove past.


11:47 a.m.

The chairman of the European Union’s council says there is “no doubt that this will be the most challenging G-7 summit in years.”

President Donald Trump’s positions on the hot-button issues of climate change, trade and migration stand in contrast to many European leaders. And they threaten to throw a summit of the Group of Seven wealthy democracies off its consensus game.

European Council President Donald Tusk says that leaders “sometimes have very different views” on topics such as climate change and trade. He says the European Union’s goal is to maintain the unity of the G-7 on “all fronts,” most importantly “defending the rules-based international order.”

He also says he agrees with Trump that the international community should be “tough, even brutal” on terrorism and the Islamic State group.

Tusk spoke at the start of a meeting of the Group of Seven democracies in Taormina, Sicily.


10:54 a.m.

President Donald Trump is declaring that North Korea is “a world problem” but says “it will be solved.”

Trump met with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on Friday ahead of the G-7 summit in the Sicilian coastal city of Taormina, Italy.

The president said the men would discuss the situation with North Korea, which has repeatedly conducted missile tests, rattling its Pacific neighbors.

Trump said, “it will be solved, you can bet on that.”

Abe became the latest world leader to publicly flatter Trump, saluting his visit to the Middle East and address to NATO on Thursday. He said they would discuss economic issues and also joked that, unlike their last meeting in Florida, the two men would not be able to play golf this time.

Trump is spending two days at the G-7, the final stop on his maiden international trip.


10:33 a.m.

President Donald Trump is in Taormina, Italy for a series of meetings with fellow Group of Seven wealthy nation leaders.

Trump is set to meet with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe before participating in a welcome ceremony and reception with follow G-7 leaders.

In the afternoon, he’ll participate in a luncheon and working sessions, before joining first lady Melania Trump at a performance of the La Scala Philharmonic Orchestra at the ancient Greek Theatre of Taormina.

The president and first lady will finish off the second-last day of Trump’s first official trip abroad attending a dinner hosted by Italian President Sergio Mattarella.

The G-7 includes the U.S., Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, and the United Kingdom.


9:00 a.m.

President Donald Trump has faced a much cooler reception in Europe than the welcome he received in the Middle East.

The leaders of Saudi Arabia and Israel seemed in competition to outdo the other with the warmth of their welcomes. Not so in Europe as Trump met with other NATO leaders and appeared eager to go on the offensive.

Trump has publicly scolded some of America’s most loyal allies for not paying their fair share of NATO’s defense initiatives. He’s also refused to explicitly back their mutual defense agreement.

Trump now arrives in Sicily for the final leg of a nine-day, five-stop marathon, a G-7 economic meeting. He is likely to be received warily, but the White House says the president has made personal breakthroughs with his peers.

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